Air pollution on the rise in Canada

Canada’s self-image as North America’s most enlightened steward of the environment has taken a blow with the release of a new report from the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Studying the period from 1998 to 2002, the report concludes that air pollution rose by 8 percent in the Great White North even as it fell by 21 percent in the states. Particularly alarming is the case of lead: Though Canada has fewer factories using lead and lead compounds than the U.S., its per-facility release of lead into the air is 13 times higher, making the nation responsible for 42 percent of North America’s lead pollution. (Lead, as we all know, can cause birth defects, learning disabilities, and cancer.) John Bennett of the Sierra Club of Canada blamed the patchwork of federal and provincial regulations: “Our politicians talk a better game, but when the Americans act, they usually act much more strongly.”