For immediate release: October 20, 2017

Statement by Environmental Defence’s Muhannad Malas on landmark Lancet report underscoring the need for stronger action on pollution and toxic chemicals

Toronto, Ont. – The findings of The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health underscores the need for stronger laws to curb pollution, and confirms that Canada must strengthen its cornerstone pollution and toxics law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). The report concluded that harmful exposures to chemical pollutants caused nine million premature deaths in 2015 and cost $4.6 trillion US annually worldwide.

Canada remains one of few industrialized countries without legally binding and enforceable national air quality standards and has largely failed to reduce exposures to toxic chemicals including endocrine disruptors from consumer products. Pollution and toxic exposures have become two of the most urgent and alarming problems of our time. The Lancet Commission report makes it evident that laws everywhere must be strengthened to curb pollution and reduce the astronomical number of environmentally caused premature deaths and illnesses.

Countries like Canada have made considerable progress in establishing regulations that reduced toxic exposures in the general population. But our laws have serious gaps when it comes to protecting vulnerable people and communities. In fact, the report distinctly points to the environmental injustice that’s occurring in Canada with respect to the troubling air pollution levels in First Nations communities in Northern Alberta and Ontario’s Chemical Valley.

The federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change recently committed to strengthening Canada’s toxics law after recommendations were made by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Environmental and health groups have endorsed these recommendations. The federal government has an excellent opportunity to make CEPA stronger. As the Lancet Commission report clearly shows, time is of the essence. Canada should no longer delay modernizing our toxics and pollution law.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Sarah Jamal, Environmental Defence, sjamal@environmentaldefence.ca, 905-921-7786 (cell), 416-323-9521 ext. 251 (work)