New/updated screening levels for the Air Contaminants Benchmarks (ACB) list

ERO number
013-2207
Notice type
Policy
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Transferred to
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
January 18, 2018 - March 4, 2018 (45 days) Closed

This consultation was open from:
January 18, 2018
to March 4, 2018

Decision summary

We have updated the Air Contaminants Benchmarks (ACB) list with new or updated screening levels for over 4,500 air contaminants.

Decision details

Descision

We have expanded and updated the screening levels on the Air Contaminants Benchmarks (ACB) list from some 1,300 contaminants to over 4,500 contaminants.

The list is an easy-to-use reference tool used by the government and the regulated community to assess contaminants for their potential to cause adverse effects. These new and updated screening levels are conservative, ensuring they are set at levels which protect human health and the environment. An expanded list increases transparency and efficiency for both government and businesses. It will free up time for both to focus on other priorities.

This update to the ACB list also includes the new and updated air standards for sulphur dioxide, announced on March 20, 2018 (ERO# 013-0903).

Purpose of policy

Under both Ontario Regulation 419/05: Air Pollution - Local Air Quality, and Ontario Regulation 1/17: Registrations Under Part II.2 of the Act - Activities Requiring Assessment of Air Emissions, all contaminants released to air above negligible amounts must be assessed for their potential to cause adverse effects.

Contaminants are assessed using standards, guideline and screening levels, if available, or if appropriate, by a toxicological assessment.

If a facility's emission concentrations are below a screening level, a facility does not need to do further assessment.  If a screening level is exceeded, or no screening level is available for the contaminant, further assessment is needed, which may include a toxicological assessment.

By expanding the number of screening levels, the list will reduce the number of toxicological assessments required.

Comments received

Through the registry

4

By email

3

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

All commenters indicated support for the updates to the ACB list and a regular and predictable schedule for updates to be made in future.

A summary of other comments provided by some of the commenters and our responses are below:

Comment: Some stakeholders requested that screening levels be phased in or that there be a transition period before more stringent screening levels take effect.

Response: We will consider a regular early notification to alert stakeholders about screening levels that may become more stringent before the ACB list update is posted.

Once the ACB list is updated, the facility should review the more stringent screening level and, if they exceed it, they should let us know if there is a potential for adverse effects.

Situation 1: A facility preparing annual updates needs to use the list that is current as of December 31st of the previous year.

Situation 2: A facility that prepares an emission summary and dispersion modelling (ESDM) report as a new or amended environmental compliance approval (ECA) application needs to use the list current as of the date that the ESDM report is prepared or submitted to the ministry for approval.

Comment: Some stakeholders suggested that updates to the ACB list be posted by January 1st every year.

Response: We will update the list by April 1st each year to align with air dispersion model updates.

Comment: Some stakeholders were concerned about compliance with ECAs that reference a screening level on the ACB list when the screening level becomes more stringent.

Response: Facilities that have not made changes but find they now exceed a screening level should let us know whether there is a potential for adverse effects. We will work with facilities to determine appropriate steps. Also, a facility can propose higher screening levels with supporting rationales, which we will review and consider in future updates to the ACB list.

Comment: Some stakeholders asked about the basis for individual screening levels or requested that screening levels be developed for some contaminants.

Response: We will consider priorities for reviewing screening levels within its process for setting new/updated standards, guidelines and screening levels. We will provide updates, as appropriate, in the next ACB list update. Also, a facility can propose higher screening levels with supporting rationales, which we will review and consider in future updates to the ACB list.

Comment: Some stakeholders recommended that screening levels be based on peer-reviewed science and have a process for quality control and corrections of errors.

Response: We set new/updated screening levels based on a process that includes consideration of other jurisdictions with clear protocols for setting health based values. For screening levels based on other jurisdictions, the screening levels may become more or less stringent or a screening level may be removed if it is no longer available from the source jurisdictions. In addition, screening levels we derived are peer reviewed internally and undergo quality control checks.

Supporting materials

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Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Technical Assessment and Standards Development Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
7th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

Connect with us

Contact

Brianne Attard

Phone number
Office
Technical Assessment and Standards Development Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
7th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
013-2207
Notice type
Policy
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Proposal posted

Comment period

January 18, 2018 - March 4, 2018 (45 days)

Proposal details

Description of policy

The ministry is proposing to update the Air Contaminants Benchmarks (ACB) List with new or updated screening levels for over 4500 contaminants, to help the regulated community assess the potential for adverse effects from their air emissions. See attachment 1, Proposed Air Contaminants Benchmarks (ACB) List.

The ACB List is a compilation of air standards and guidelines as well as screening levels. This proposal addresses screening levels. It does not impact the standards and guidelines on the list.

This proposal responds to multiple requests from the regulated community for additional tools to facilitate screening of contaminants. It is recognized that expanding the ACB list with additional screening levels will support the regulated community, as it will reduce the number of toxicological assessments needed, saving time and money for industry without negatively impacting the environment.

Approaches used to determine the new/updated screening levels

The ministry’s proposed expanded and updated list of screening levels was developed from two sources: (1) air quality values from 11 health/environmental agencies in other jurisdictions; and (2) ministry’s recommendations from previous in-house toxicological assessments performed. Further details on these approaches are available in the proposed updated ACB List (attachment 1, see Introduction).

Implementation of updated screening levels

In addition to proposing to update the ACB List with new/updated screening levels (see attachment 1), the ministry is seeking input on a proposed approach to maintaining an up-to-date ACB List over time:

  1. ACB List Update Frequency – It is proposed that the ACB List be updated annually in April of each calendar year to reflect any new/updated screening levels, by posting an Information Notice on the Environmental Registry. A link to the updated ACB List would also be made available on the ontario.ca website. Annual updates to the screening levels could reflect toxicological assessments submitted to the ministry by stakeholders, findings from the ministry’s own in-house toxicological assessments, and any future reviews of the screening levels derived from other jurisdictions.
  2. Approach for stakeholders to contribute screening levels to the ACB List – It is proposed that the ministry would consider recommended new screening levels when external parties choose to provide the ministry with their recommendation along with a toxicological assessment. The ministry would review the submission and, if appropriate, accept the value for inclusion in the next update to the screening levels on the ACB List.
  3. Transition period – Of the approximately 1200 existing screening levels that have been updated in the proposed new list, approximately 450 are more stringent, and approximately 50 are being removed from the list altogether.

These more stringent screening levels may, in certain circumstances, impact how an Emission Summary and Dispersion Modelling report (ESDM report) is prepared. For example, further refinement of emission estimates may be needed to demonstrate that concentrations are below the more stringent screening level and in some cases, a toxicological assessment may be needed to determine whether there may be an adverse effect.

To acknowledge this possibility, the ministry is proposing to post the amendments to the ACB List in April of each year. This would give persons required to annually update their ESDM report approximately one year to address any concerns, as updates are required by March 31 each year. It should also be noted that Guideline A-10 (Procedure for Preparing an Emission Summary and Dispersion Modelling report, section 12.2 – see attachment 2) provides guidance with respect to ministry expectations regarding concentrations that exceed a screening level.

These new values will be effective immediately once they are announced on the Environmental Registry (with link to the updated list on the ontario.ca website). Any ESDM report prepared after the date of the published update will be required to use the new/updated screening levels.

Consultation questions

The ministry invites comments on this proposal including responses to the following:

  1. The proposed updated and expanded list of screening levels is based on examination of other jurisdictions’ values, as well as results of the ministry’s own in-house toxicological assessments. What other approaches or methods could be considered in setting screening levels in future ACB List updates?
  2. The ministry would like to continue to expand the list of screening levels over time. What approaches could be considered, to prioritize new contaminants for addition to the list of screening levels?
  3. The ministry is suggesting that stakeholders could provide toxicological reviews and proposed screening levels for ministry consideration and inclusion in future ACB List updates. How else could the stakeholder community be engaged in contributing screening levels?
  4. The ministry is proposing annual updates to the ACB List. Do you have any feedback on the proposed frequency and timing of updates to the screening levels on the ACB List?

Please also let the ministry know if you notice any potential errors in the proposed new/updated ACB List.

Purpose of policy

Under both Ontario Regulation 419/05 Air Pollution – Local Air Quality, and Ontario Regulation 1/17: Registrations Under Part II.2 of the Act - Activities Requiring Assessment of Air Emissions, all contaminants released to air above negligible amounts must be assessed for their potential to cause adverse effects.

Contaminants are assessed using benchmarks (standards, guidelines and screening levels), if available, or by a toxicological assessment.

Screening levels were first introduced in 2008 to help expedite air emissions approvals. In January 2017, these 2008 values were compiled along with air standards and guidelines into the ACB List.

This proposal is to expand the ACB List to provide new screening levels for ~3500 contaminants and update the screening levels for ~1200 contaminants.

Screening levels serve as a tool to quickly determine if an assessment is required. They are conservative benchmarks below which adverse health effects from air emissions are not expected. If a facility’s emission concentrations are below a screening level, no further assessment is required. If a screening level is exceeded, or no screening level is available for the contaminant, further assessment is needed, which may include a toxicological assessment.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Technical Assessment and Standards Development Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
7th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from January 18, 2018
to March 4, 2018

Connect with us

Contact

Brianne Attard

Phone number
Office
Technical Assessment and Standards Development Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
7th floor
Toronto ON M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number