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PollutionWatch Tutorial

Welcome to PollutionWatch!

PollutionWatch helps you get answers about pollutants in your community. Simply type in your postal code to find out which facilities have reported releasing and transferring pollutants and emitting greenhouse gases in your community. You can also find facilities in your neighbourhood using the new PollutionWatch Mapping site.

The PollutionWatch web site uses data from the federal government's national pollutant reporting program, called the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). This data includes toxic pollutants (such as mercury and arsenic) and pollutants that cause smog and acid rain, called Criteria Air Contaminants. PollutionWatch also uses data from the federal government's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program. Greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide and methane) lead to global climate change.

Please note that PollutionWatch classifies releases, disposals and transfers differently than NPRI. NPRI uses a narrower definition of ‘release' (which excludes underground injection and land releases like landfill) than PollutionWatch . These varying methods of presentation will yield different perspectives on the data. Please see Understanding the Data for a more detailed discussion. Users are therefore cautioned to understand these differences if using both NPRI and the PollutionWatch web sites.

NPRI is the only publicly available source of information about releases and transfers of toxic pollutants and Criteria Air Contaminants in Canada . But , it doesn't cover all sources or all pollutants. Cars, trucks and other mobile sources, service stations, dry cleaners and other area sources, and natural sources are not tracked under NPRI, or on the PollutionWatch web site. You can get more details about the NPRI program from the government of Canada web site.

The federal government's greenhouse gas emissions database is the only publicly available data on emissions of greenhouse gases from facilities across Canada . But, it doesn't cover all sources of greenhouse gases. Only large facilities that emit the equivalent of 100,000 tonnes (100 kt) or more of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) per year are required to report. 336 facilities across Canada in all sectors reported their greenhouse gas emissions for the 2005 calendar year in June 2006 . This data does not include greenhouse gas emissions from other important sources such as transportation, agriculture, small industrial sources and heating in houses and offices. You can read more details about the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program on the government of Canada web site.

What can the PollutionWatch web site tell me about releases and transfers of pollutants?

You can use the PollutionWatch web site to

  • map facilities that report releases and transfers of pollutants and greenhouse gases in your community,

  • identify facilities that report releases and transfers of pollutants in your community, including toxic pollutants (such as mercury and arsenic), Criteria Air Contaminants (pollutants that cause smog and acid raid) and greenhouse gases (air pollutants that lead to global climate change),

  • rank the facilities that report releases and transfers of toxic pollutants, Criteria Air Contaminants and greenhouse gases,

  • create trends on toxic pollutants from 1995-2005, or

  • create your own ranked lists of facilities by province, industrial sector, or corporation.

The PollutionWatch web site is divided into four search categories:

1. Maps: Use this search function to find facilities in your community that report releases and transfers of pollutants, and greenhouse gas emissions. Just put in your street address, choose the type of pollution you want to search for, decide the geographic range of your search (kilometres from your home) and hit search. You will get detailed information about each reporting facility that appears on the map you have created!

2. Who is Polluting?: Use this section to search by company, by facility, by province or by specific types of releases and transfers (for example, releases to air or releases to water ). You can choose to look at the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) data (toxic pollutants and Criteria Air Contaminants) or at greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide and methane). You can also choose to search by different types of air pollution:

  • by Criteria Air Contaminants (CACs) alone, pollutants that cause smog and acid rain,
  • by toxics alone , which includes pollutants like mercury or lead that have various environmental and health effects, or
  • by a combined total of CACs and toxics.

3. Pollution Rankings: In this section, you can rank releases and transfers of toxic pollutants and Criteria Air Contaminants reported to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) from facilities and companies across Canada. You can also rank emissions of greenhouse gases reported by facilities across Canada .

4. Pollution Timelines: Use this search to look at trends in releases and transfers of toxic pollutants reported to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) from 1995 to 200 5. You can search for trends by health effects, type of release or transfer, sector, facility or company. For these trends, PollutionWatch analyzes only those pollutants that have been consistently reported since 1995. The data presented in time trends do not include transfers to recycling or transfers for energy recovery. Time trends for criteria air contaminants and greenhouse gases are not yet available.

You can also track time trends for releases of Criteria Air Contaminants, associated with smog and acid rain, from 2002 to 2005. And you can search trends in greenhouse gas emissions from 2004 to 2005.

What additional information can I find on PollutionWatch?

You can find out more about environmental laws and regulations in Canada in the Environmental Laws section of PollutionWatch. It features an overview of laws put in place by the federal government, as well as laws in New Brunswick , Ontario , Alberta and British Columbia . The information is available in Adobe Acrobat format so you can download and print the full document.

Teachers and students will be interested in the Lesson Plans for Teachers section on PollutionWatch. Here, you will find tips and information on using PollutionWatch and the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) data in the classroom and for school projects.

You can also use the Pollution Summary For Canada at the bottom of the screen for a look at pollution in Canada . For a time trend in a specific chemical, you can use Pollutant Summary also at the bottom of the screen.. For information on Pollution Prevention, how a facility is working to eliminate or reduce the generation of pollutants, please see the Pollution Prevention Summary at the bottom of the screen.

How can I search PollutionWatch for reported releases and transfers in my community?

You can search for a list of facilities in your community that report their releases and transfers to the federal government. Just enter your postal code in the ‘Who is Polluting' or ‘Pollution Timelines' sections. For the best results, enter the first three digits of your postal code; for example, for a postal code " M1K 3T7 ", enter " M " or " M1 " or " M1K ". You will then receive a list of facilities in that postal code.

You can also search for facilities in your community on the PollutionWatch Mapping site. Just put in your street address, choose the type of pollution you want to search for, decide the geographic range of your search (kilometres from your home) and hit search. You will get detailed information about each reporting facility that appears on the map you have created!

 

List of Facilities

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