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Ozone (O3) is a molecule consisting of three oxygen atoms, similar to the oxygen
we breathe (O2), however oxygen consists of only two oxygen atoms. In the
stratosphere, a region high up in the upper atmosphere, light rays are
responsible for the breaking down of oxygen (O2), breathable oxygen into its two
separate oxygen atoms. Lone oxygen atoms are markedly reactive. When a lone
oxygen atom comes into contact with a breathable oxygen molecule (O2) it
combines to form ozone (O3). The ozone layer is a small residual amount of
ozone concentrated in a band in the upper atmosphere. This band of concentrated
ozone resides approximately between twenty and forty kilometers high in the
stratosphere. The ozone layer reactions that both create and destroy ozone has
come into a dynamic equilibrium. This dynamic equilibrium is very delicate and
resulted during atmospheric formation (Environment Canada, 1996). Ozone, however,
is very rare even in the ozone layer. Oxygen makes up approximately twenty
percent of air and ozone makes up only 3 x 10-5 percent of air. Furthermore,
this minuscule amount of ozone is enough to protect the earth from most
ultraviolet light. Ozone prevents most UV-B radiation from reaching the surface
of the earth (Environment Canada, 1996). Ozone is very important to life on
earth because the harmfulness of high-energy UV-B radiation stems from the high
energy of these light rays, enabling them to penetrate deeply into water, plant
tissue and epidermal tissue of animals. Increased UV-B radiation results in
harming the metabolic system of cells and ultimately damage to genetic material
present in effected cells. Living organisms on the surface of the earth have
always been exposed to some, and only slightly differing levels of UV-B
radiation depending of geographic location and season. Through evolution,
cellular repair mechanisms have evolved to safeguard cells against damage done
by UV-B radiation. With the increase in the UV-B radiation, more damage is done
to cellular functions then the natural protection system can deal with
(Environment Canada, 1996). Life on earth would more or less be void if not for
the formation of the ozone layer during atmospheric formation (Porter, 1996).
With out the ozone layer the harmful UV-B radiation would not allow the growth
of autotrophic plants, resulting in reduction in oxygen production; ultimately
the destruction of most living organisms on the earth surface would result.
Increased UV-B radiation has been linked to many incidence of increased health
problems among humans. UV-B radiation leads to increase skin cancer, eye damage,
and possible inhibition of the immune system (Health Canada). These incidence
have been noticed in humans, and it is presumed that these problems will occur
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increased UV-B radiation, it can cause the destruction of chlorophyll in plant
leaves resulting is less growth, and ultimately reduction in crop yields, forest
annual increments and a general decline in forest ecosystem health. The UV-B
radiation also causes the potential for the decrease in the populations of
phytoplankton in the world's oceans, causing yet more problems when one analyzes
phytoplankton in the oceans food chain (Clair, 1996). Humans are responsible for
almost all activities and pollutants that deplete the ozone layer. Humanity has
damaged the ozone layer by adding synthetically made molecules containing both
chlorine and/or bromine to the atmosphere. Both chlorine and bromine are
attributed to ozone destruction. The most commonly know group of these are
called CFCs, chlorofluorocarbons. Chlorofluorocarbons are utilized for many
industrial and domestic applications. At the earth surface, these molecules
remain stable. However, with their release into the atmosphere they are
subject to global air currents, winds aloft and atmospheric mixing, causing them
to drift up into the stratosphere. Other chemicals such as halons, carbon
tetrachloride and methyl chloroform, also attribute to ozone depletion. However
some naturally found molecules in the stratosphere, such as nitrous oxide, also
a by product of the burning of fossil fuels, attribute to the break down of
ozone (O3). Natural factors include the quasi-biennial oscillation of
stratospheric winds which occurs approximately once every 2.3 years, and the 11
year sunspot cycle. However the observation of the sunspot cycle reveals that
the total global ozone levels should not decrease more than one to two percent
(Environment Canada, 1996). In the stratosphere such molecules are effected by
energetic UV-C radiation. UV-C radiation breaks down chlorine, freeing an atom
of chlorine (Cl). Chlorine atoms will react with ozone (O3) by splitting of one
oxygen atom to form Chlorine oxide (ClO) and Oxygen (O2). The Chlorine oxide
however will again be broken down into Chlorine and a free oxygen atom to allow
the chlorine to continue destroying ozone. One Chlorine atom (Cl) can destroy
ten thousand ozone molecules (Environment Canada, 1996). With the identification
of the human-produced chemicals that have lead to the destruction of the ozone
layer the extent of the threat to stratospheric ozone has been realized. With
the emergence of the scientific evidence on the ozone depletion threat, the
international community agreed to regulate ozone destructive chemicals, and
setup a timetable for their complete phase-out. The 1987 Montreal Protocol, and
subsequent London 1990, and Copenhagen 1992 amendments was an agreement that
stipulated this timetable. The Montreal Protocol was a monumental achievement
in international environmental cooperation and protection. The Protocol allowed
for the refinement of the timetable as the on-going process of scientific
understanding on ozone depletion improved, the phase-outs cloud be expedited.
In the spring of 1989, eighty countries met in Helsinki, Finland to assess new
information. Unanimous agreement to a five point "Helsinki Declaration". The
Declaration stipulated that all countries join both the Vienna convention for
the protection of the ozone layer and the Montreal Protocol, phase out of CFCs
by 2000, phase out halons as soon as feasible, commit to the development of
alternative environmentally acceptable chemicals and technologies, and make
information accessible to developing countries. In 1995, over one hundred and
fifty countries had ratified the Montreal Protocol. In compliance,
chlorofluorocarbons, carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform production was
to be phased out at the end of 1995; methyl bromide is currently scheduled for
United States phase-out by 2001; and all hydorchlorofluorocarbons will be phased
out by 2030 (Environment Canada, 1993). Environment Canada has implemented a UV
index to provide information to the general public on specific UV hazards daily.
Constant monitoring, global awareness and the eventual phase-out of all ozone
depleting substances are all part of Canada's measures for the protection of the
ozone layer. Environment Canada highlights five measures being taken to
control Canada's ozone depleting substances:
¨Canada's ozone depleting substance phase-out plan, developed as a result of the
Montreal Protocol, has accomplished many of its goals already.
¨Most new cars with air conditioning manufactured in Canada are now fitted with
hydrofluorocarbon air conditioning systems that use HFC-134a (hydrofluorocarbon
134-a). HCFCs and HFCs have been introduced to replace CFCs. On average, HCFCs
have about 5% of the ozone-depleting potential of CFCs.
¨Recovery and recycling regulations for ozone depleting substances (not
including methyl bromide) are in place in 9 out of the 10 provinces, while
Newfoundland and Yukon are in the process of drafting regulations. Guidelines
are being prepared in the Northwest Territories.
¨On August 10, 1995, the Zer-O-Zone project was launched at Winnipeg City Hall.
The project, which is an initiative of the Sierra Club, is intended to foster
public awareness of and support for Manitoba's Ozone Protection Regulation.
¨Canada has established bilateral agreements for ozone depleting substance
technology and information transfer with China, Brazil and Venezuela.
¨A Multilateral Fund has been set up by industrialized countries under the
Montreal Protocol to assist developing countries in the phase-out of controlled
substances. (Environment Canada, 1996)
Acid rain, the widely used term for precipitation acidified by atmospheric
pollutants may be either dry or wet deposition. Acid rain is caused by
pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2 ) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), these
pollutants originate from fossil fuel burning utilities, industrial and
automotive sources. In the atmosphere sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides
(NOx) are converted chemically to sulphuric acid and nitric acid respectively.
Diluted forms of these acids fall to the earth surface as rain, hail, drizzle,
freezing rain, snow or fog (wet deposition), they are also deposited as acid gas
or dust (dry deposition). Normal rain (pH 5.6) is slightly acidic, but acid
rain can be as much as 100 times more acidic (Watt, 1987). With the burning of
fossil fuels these chemicals are released into the atmosphere, acidic pollutants
may be transported great distances by the prevailing winds, winds aloft and
weather systems before being deposited. It is estimated that more than 50% of
the acid rain that falls in eastern Canada comes from US. sources (U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, 1991). Natural sources of SO2 and NOx do exist.
In comparison though more than 90% of the SO2 and NOx emissions occurring in
North America are from human activity. In Canada, the largest sources of SO2 are
the smelting or refining of sulphur-bearing metal ores and the burning of fossil
fuels for energy. NOx pollutants are formed during the combustion of fossil
fuels in transportation (responsible for 35% of total emissions), industrial
processes/fuel combustion (23%), power generation (12%) and other sources (30%)
(River Road Environmental Technology Centre, 1991). Of Canada's total land area,
about 4 million km2 or 43% is highly sensitive to acid rain (Hughs, 1991). With
little ability to neutralize acidic pollutants eastern Canada is more seriously
affected by acid deposition. Eastern Canada being composed of thin, coarsely
textured soil (glacial till) and granite bedrock (characteristic of the Canadian
Shield) do not have the buffering ability found in the deeper organic soils of
western Canada. Further, eastern Canada receives more acidic deposition than any
other region in Canada. Acid rain is a less serious problem in western Canada
because of lower overall exposure to acidic pollutants and a generally less
acid-sensitive environment. However, the northern parts of Manitoba and
Saskatchewan, along with the north eastern corner of Alberta remain in the
Canadian Shield region, and are more affected by acid deposition. Acid rain may
contribute to declining growth rates and increased death rates in trees. For
example, instances of dieback and deterioration have been noted in white birch
in southeastern New Brunswick caused by acid fog, and acidic cloud precipitation
(Hughs, 1991). High levels of acidic deposition result in the acidification of
acid-sensitive lakes, rivers and streams and cause metals to leach from
surrounding soils into the water system. High acidity and elevated levels of
metals (notably aluminum) can seriously impair the ability of water bodies to
support aquatic life, resulting in a decline in species diversity. Lakes and
streams in areas that receive high levels of acidic deposition are currently
being monitored to check their acidification status. Over the past decade, 33%
of the monitored Canadian lakes showed evidence of improvement, 11% continued to
acidify and the rest remained unchanged in acidity (Environment Canada, 1996).
Aquatic sensitivity, with respect to aquatic sensitivity classes (high, moderate,
low) New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland are
among the top six provinces with eighty plus percent of their lakes in the
moderate to high sensitivity classes.
Table 1.0 AQUATIC SENSITIVITY, BY PROVINCE
Freshwater Areas in Aquatic Sensitivity
High Mod. Low %High/mod.
British Columbia 32 44 18 73% Alberta
6 21 70 28% Saskatchewan
37 3 56 42% Manitoba
30 2 38 46% Ontario
34 20 20 73% Quebec 32
8 7 94% New Brunswick 31 49
12 87% Nova Scotia 54 33 19
82% Prince Edward Island 26 56 <1 99%
Newfoundland 56 30 4 96% (Union of
Concerned Scientists, 1996)
In Newfoundland the lack of water treatment in some rural communities has
resulted in an increase of potable water acidity. With the use of copper piping
for water main use in Newfoundland, acidic water can cause serious problems.
The acidity causes the leeching of the copper away from the water main pipe and
into the water system causing increased copper content in the water as well as
problems dealing with water main leaks and breakage's. The same problem is
evident with the use of asbestos cement pipe. However the leeching of cement
away from the pipe allows the release of the asbestos fibers into the water
system. Asbestos is carcinogenic, and therefore this problem arises serious
health concerns. Human exposure to particulate matter, including sulphate and
acidic aerosols, which penetrate deep into the lungs and leads to increased
respiratory problems. Recent research indicates a relationship between decreased
lung function, increased cardio-respiratory mortality and long-term exposure to
ambient acidic aerosols. SO2 and its by-products have been linked with rates of
deterioration in building materials, such as cement, limestone and sandstone.
Some of the Atlantic Province's significant historic structures (for example,
the Basilica, St. John's) are slowly being eroded by acidic pollutants. A
Canadian Acid Rain Control Program was formalized in 1985 by establishing
federal-provincial agreements with the seven provinces east of Saskatchewan.
Participating provinces agreed to reduce their combined SO2 emissions to 2.3
million tonnes per year by 1994. This target was exceeded in 1993. Total eastern
Canadian SO2 emissions were 1.7 million tonnes in 1994, representing a 56%
reduction from 1980 levels. In 1991, Canada signed an agreement with the United
States for the reduction of SO2 and NOx emissions. Canada's obligations under
this agreement include the establishment of a permanent national limit on SO2 of
3.2 million tonnes by the year 2000 and a 10% reduction in projected NOx
emissions from stationary sources by the same year (NB., NF., NS., Departments
of Environment, 1991). In 1995, Canada began to develop a national strategy
dealing with acidic deposition and acidifying emissions. Furthermore, the
formulation of new deposition objectives for beyond year 2000. The aim is to
protect acid-sensitive ecosystems, human health and air visibility in Canada and
ensure the achievement of its international commitments. This strategy will be
considered by federal and provincial/territorial Ministers of Energy and
Environment in 1997 (Ryan, 1996).
The Five major environmental pollution sources in Newfoundland and Labrador are
: ¨ Municipal Sewage ¨ Vehicle Emissions ¨ Municipal Solid Waste ¨
Total Carbon Dioxide (CO2) output ¨ Primary Natural Resource Processing
¨ Municipal sewage is a problem affecting all the Atlantic provinces. 150,000
m3 of untreated sewage is discharged daily in to Halifax harbour (Whelan, 1996).
With a common lack of waste treatment in the Atlantic provinces, except PEI. ,
actions throughout the Atlantic Provinces should be taken. The St. John's
harbour is a similar situation to the Halifax harbour. Although St. John's has
a smaller population the narrows at the harbour entrance poses problems as well.
The tidal current is impeded by the narrows not allowing the waste products to
be totally removed from the harbour. The rural areas of Newfoundland although
much smaller still remain with no waste treatment facilities. Sediments are
contaminated with organic matter, heavy metals, and organic chemicals such as
PAHs and PCBs (Whelan, 1996). Primary treatment plants should be facilitated in
major population centers around Newfoundland and possible secondary treatment
should be explored as well. Many small rural communities could maintain there
present waste disposal into the Atlantic pending proper environmental study to
determine if the area can handle the small volume of decomposing waste. However,
with population increase sewage treatment plants should be facilitated in these
area's, as they should have been many years ago in St. John's, and other major
centers in Newfoundland. ¨ Vehicle Emissions are not only a Newfoundland
problem but a major global problem. The demand for personal transportation is
not likely to change in Newfoundland in the future, and national trends show an
increase in the number of vehicles on the roads in Canada (Environment Canada,
1996). The main action that must be taken to minimize vehicle emissions are the
adoption of vehicle emissions control program in Newfoundland. This would cause
all vehicles on the road to maintain a minimum standard of fuel emission
production. High occupancy vehicle lanes and other similar incentives could be
implemented. Testing is going on presently in some Canadian cities to encourage
ride-sharing and improving fuel efficiency per passenger-kilometer (Maddocks,
1996). Ultimately research into alternative fuels, electric vehicles, hydrogen
fuel cells, and radically redesigned light-weight super fuel efficient
automobiles suggest that there is significant potential for improving energy
efficiency and reducing vehicle emissions. Although this last point is a broad
scope for the Newfoundland vehicle emission problem, this problem is global and
therefore global cooperation in research is vital to minimizing this problem. ¨
Municipal Solid Waste has been on the increase over past decades. In New
Brunswick if trends continue the average waste generated per person will be
approximately 550 kg by 1997, up from approximately 350 kg in 1967 (Maddocks,
1996). Solid waste is disposed of in small dump sites, large landfills and by
incineration. In Newfoundland there is a relatively large number of screened
incinerators. However with the global push to lower atmospheric air pollutants,
incineration, although space conducive, also maintains its problems. All three
forms of waste management have there problems. With the formation of better
landfill design and site choice, landfills are becoming better managed and
better contained. In the long term the only way to curb the production in solid
wastes is to bring about a reduction of wastes produced. The use of composting
is useful in the deposing of organic waste, however with regional composting you
again run into the problem of site selection, due to public opposition. The
problem of both land and sea persistent litter is also a problem in Newfoundland.
A hazard to both aesthetics and marine animals (through entanglement and
ingestion). A reduction is garbage produced per person is ultimately the best
way to solve the problem. The national Packaging Protocol calls for a reduction
in packaging of 50%, over the 1988 levels, by the year 2000 (Maddocks, 1996).
These are the kinds of reduction in produced waste that are beneficial to solid
waste management. ¨ Total Carbon Dioxide (CO2) output is a combination of home
burning of oil and wood for heating, the refining of the fossil fuels for the
use in the heating and powering of gasoline engines, and the production of
electrical power (Maddocks, 1996). Although Newfoundland power pushes people to
use electricity for the use in heat, many people are still using oil in their
homes. Surprisingly enough the oil fuelled furnace is more fuel efficient then
the oil burning electrical power station supplying St. John's with its
electricity (Dawne, 1996). In rural areas of Newfoundland many people are
heating their homes with wood, this has a very high percentage of carbon dioxide
for the relative heat in BTU's. With the extreme need for a good fuel efficient
source of heat during the long Newfoundland winter, it is evident other fuel
sources must be explored. With fossil fuels being the cheapest form of heat,
economics will play major role in the choices available. There is still room,
however, for better fuel efficiency and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. The
use of less polluting fuels, such as natural gas should be examined. The
economic benefit of finding a cleaner, and cheaper source of heat is extremely
important. The full range of environmental and economic impacts over its life
cycle (extraction, refinement, and use) needs to be considered, whatever fuel is
used. ¨ Primary Natural Resource Processing can be split into two groups with
Pulp and Paper Mills and Fish and Food Processing Plants, the Newfoundland
Department of the Environment does not include Mining and Smelting in this group
of polluters (Whelan, 1996). Pulp and Paper Mills are responsible for the
discharge of effluents containing organic wastes and suspended solids to fresh
and coastal waters. Effluents from the plants in Newfoundland produce a variety
of toxic organo-chlorine compounds, including dioxins and furans. The formation
of organic acids, due to the decomposition of wood, particulate matter also
poses a problem. The volume of wood waste that is dumped into rivers and bays
in Newfounland have caused the formation of toxic carcinogenic fish habitat
enviroments (Whelan, 1996). With new regulatory measures in place the
environmental stress on the water ways will be reduced, however, even though
sulphur dioxide air emissions have been reduced, noxious odours continue to be
an aesthetic problem. The technology has come available in recent years for the
use of a closed water system for pulp and paper plants. This system, however is
not widely used because of the setup cost. Closed water systems would almost
entirely eliminate the noxious odour problem and largely decrease the need to
dump effluents into fresh and coastal waters. The technology is available, once
again the problem of the economics behind the production is the main concern.
Fish Processing Plants operating in Newfoundland, however drastically reduced
since 1992, primarily stress the environment by releasing high-strength oxygen-
demanding wastes to the coastal environment. Harmful bacteria in plant
effluents, and nuisance odours are also a potential concern. With the
moratorium on the cod fishery in 1992, the closure of many fish plants was
actually a multifaceted benefit to the environment, both to the areas
surrounding the plants and to the cod fishery.
Clair, T. 1996. Personal communication. Atmospheric Environment Service.
Newfoundland Region, St. John's, Newfoundland.
Dawne, L. 1996. Personal communication. Jacques Whitford Environmental
Consultants. St. John's Newfoundland.
Hughs, R.N. 1991. Acid Deposition in New Brunswick 1988-1990. New Brunswick
Department of the Environment. Technical Report T-9001. April 1991.
Maddocks, D. 1996. Personal communication. Newfoundland Environmental
Management, Newfoundland Department of Environment and Lands.
Newfoundland Region, St. John's, Newfoundland.
New Brunswick Department of the Environment. 1991. Report Relating to the
Canada/New Brunswick Agreement Respecting a Sulphur Dioxide Emission
Reduction Program for the Calendar Year 1990. Fredericton, NB. March
Newfoundland Department of Environment and Lands. 1991. Canada/Newfoundland
Agreement Respecting a Sulphur Dioxide Emission Reduction Program
Report. St. John's, Newfoundland. March 1991.
Nova Scotia Department of the Environment. 1991. Canada/Nova Scotia Acid Rain
Reduction Agreement Report on the Year ending 31 March 1991. Halifax, NS.
Porter, K. 1996. Personal communication. Atmospheric Environment Service.
Newfoundland Region, St. John's, Newfoundland.
Power, K. 1996. Personal Communication. Environmental Protection, Environment
Canada, Atlantic Region. St. John's, Newfoundland.
Ryan, P. 1996. Personal communication. Department of Fisheries and Oceans
(DFO). Newfounland Region, St. John's, Newfoundland.
River Road Environmental Technology Centre. March 1991. Update and summary
report: measurement program for toxic air contaminants in Canadian urban air.
Environmental Protection, Environment Canada. Ottawa.
Environment Canada. 1996. State of the Environment Report Overview, August
1996. Atmospheric Environment Service, Environmental Protection, Ottawa,
Environment Canada. 1993. Montreal Protocol with 1990, 1992 Amendments.
Atmospheric Environment Service, Ottawa, 1993.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1991. National Air Pollutant Emission
Estimates 1940-1989. Office of Air Quality, Planning and Standards.
EPA-450/4-91-004. March 1991.
Watt, W.D. 1987. A summary of the impact of acid rain on Atlantic salmon
(Salmo salar) in Canada. Water, Air & Soil Pollution. Vol. 35: 27-35.
Whelan, R. 1996. Personal communication. Newfoundland Department of
Environment and Lands. Newfounland Region, St. John's, Newfoundland.
General information and advice provided by the following agencies, in personal
communication or from the world wide web are gratefully acknowledged:
E. I. Du Pont de Nemours, Wilmington, DE
Environment Canada Environmental Protection Service National Water Research
Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy
Global Resources, Union of Concerned Scientists
Health Canada Health Protection Branch.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Monitoring and
Diagnostics Laboratory Boulder, Colorado, USA
United Nations Environment Programme
World Meteorological Organization
Worldwatch Institute Washington, D. C., USA