Canada still lags behind other industrial countries in reducing VOC emissions in consumer and commercial products. Federal government regulations have recently started to target reductions of VOC’s emitted by the manufacture and use of cleaning products, personal care products, paints, and printing inks, which account for nearly half of all solvent-related VOC emissions. In December 2006, the government published regulations that set limits for the concentration of 2-butoxyethanol—found in cleaners, paints, and coatings—in commercial and consumer products intended for indoor use.2
The federal government has indicated it will develop further regulatory and non-regulatory measures to reduce VOC emissions in Canada. In April 2008, the government brought forward regulations to limit VOC’s in architectural and industrial maintenance coatings, automotive refinishing coatings, and selected consumer products.3
The government has also announced it will create a strategic plan to guide action in other consumer and commercial products sectors.4 At this stage, the government is gathering data on VOCs to drive the strategic plan. Some VOCs will be assessed for various health and environmental impacts.
The proposed measures will align the VOC content limits, where appropriate, with requirements in the United States. They may also increase opportunities for the Canadian industry to compete in the North American market on an equal footing.5
Achieving progress on this indicator has been constrained by Canada’s failure to ratify the 1991 Geneva Protocol to the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution combined with a lack of VOC reduction targets.6