ChemTRAC: Pollution prevention in the GTA

Courtesy of Toronto and Region Conservation Authority  (TRCA) 

Toronto, Ontario — August 21, 2018 —With the growing production of new chemical substances, the automotive refinishing sector in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has evolved over the past decade. 

The facilities within the automotive refinishing sector generate waste and emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and fine particulate matter, such as dust and nitrogen oxides (NO x ). These pollutants can be released to the environment and can potentially cause adverse health effects to workers and the surrounding community.
The automotive refinishing sector within the GTA has experienced challenges in diverging from traditional practices and in identifying key priority chemicals used in the industry.
To address these continued challenges, Toronto Public Health collaborated with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to promote the ChemTRAC pollution prevention (P2) program. The main objectives of the P2 effort were to engage with facilities; increase public awareness through the reporting of the use and release of chemicals; reduce the use of priority chemicals; potentially improve the health and safety of employees, the environment and community; minimize waste and assist facilities in implementing sustainable practices.
A total of 52 facilities were visited from February to July of this year. The differences in operations between the larger and smaller facilities were evident. Several larger facilities, which comprise of over ten employees, were found to be generally equipped with proper tools such as proper ventilation systems, and resources such as thorough staff training.
In contrast, a challenge for smaller facilities consisting of a maximum of five employees is to access resources to fully support sustainable practices.
Facilities can consider the P2 program rather than over-investing in paint products and waste disposal fees.
The ChemTRAC P2 program not only encourages engagement with owners and workers at the facility and provides sustainable recommendations specific for the businesses, but it is also an opportunity for the community to acknowledge facilities for the positive environmental best practices and initiatives. 
By identifying P2 opportunities and executing proposed P2 plans, facilities can steadily replace traditional practices with sustainable solutions and significantly reduce the cost of generating and disposing chemical waste.
Pollution prevention has demonstrated a wide success to various sectors in the GTA and has become a popular method to alleviate economical stress on businesses.
The P2 program can provide guidance on chemical management and enforce awareness of health hazards caused by elevated levels of pollutants in the air.
The ChemTRAC P2 program can benefit both business and the community at large.
Further information is available on the City of Toronto website at toronto.ca

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