Quebec more lax than Public Health on nickel in the air
Quebec is relaxing its standards regarding the presence of nickel in the air. The province allows five times more white metal in the air than recommended by Public Health. This was revealed during a technical briefing for the media, presented by the Ministry of the Environment, on Monday morning.
High exposure to nickel in air is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer of the lungs and nasal cavity, and fibrosis of the lungs.
Currently, the standard for nickel in air is set at 14 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) on a daily basis. The new standard will be 70 ng/m3, while Public Health had suggested that it be increased to 40 ng/m3.
This increase is still justifiable, according to Public Health, because in addition to the daily standard, an annual standard of 20 ng/m3 will also be imposed by the Quebec government. This annual standard will act as a safety net to ensure that the annual standard is not exceeded too often.
With its current standard, Quebec is one of the strictest states in the world regarding the concentration of nickel in the air. Only California has stricter standards, explained researcher from the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal Michèle Bouchard.
Currently, the only place in Quebec where you can find high concentrations of nickel in the air is the district of Limoilou, in Quebec City. Although the sector is regulated 90% of the time, at certain times, exceedances of up to 14 and 20 times the permitted standards have been detected.
Different standards in Montreal and Quebec
The City of Montreal benefits its own standards concerning the rate of nickel in the air. The subject has been debated in Quebec City, where Mayor Bruno Marchand also wants to take advantage of an exception. For him, it is important that the citizens of the capital are not treated differently from those of Montreal.
It is indeed possible that Quebec could obtain its own standard, explained the Assistant Deputy Minister for Sustainable Development and Environmental Quality, Jacob Martin-Malus. Under the law on municipal powers, the government could offer this privilege to Quebec. However, this approach should be approved by the Minister of the Environment of Quebec, Benoit Charette.