Grassroots right-to-know toxic chemical group started

The Toronto Environmental Alliance announced the implementation of a Community Right-to-Know list serve in August.

Members of the list are “a growing list of concerned citizens who want the City of Toronto to enact a Community Right-to-Know (CRTK) By-law.”

Toxic campaigns coordinator Lina Cino writes, “Communities have a right to know about toxic pollutants affecting their workplaces and neighbourhoods. Access to information on the use, storage, and disposal of toxic chemicals is critical to both understanding and preventing potential health and environmental risks for all who live and work in a community.”

“We need to actively engage the City to adopt a CRTK By-law,” Cino continues. “We will be sending out regular updates and bulletins.”

General information about the mailing list is at:

A fire at a scrap yard and auto body shop has shown that Torontonians are not protected by existing environmental regulation. The blaze in a scrap yard near Rogers Rd. and Weston Rd. broke out just after 5 a.m. on Aug. 24. The flames also consumed a nearby auto body shop. At noon, the Ministry of the Environment sent out their Mobile Air Monitoring Unit, but no report of emissions was released. As of 2 p.m. that day, the public had not been told what health hazards the fire may have posed.

Burning scrap metal and tires are highly toxic. Rubber tires contain both benzene and 1,3 butadiene, suspected human carcinogens. When tires burn, these chemicals are released.  Burning tires release large amounts of toxic metals including zinc, fine particulate matter which causes respiratory and cardiac disease, and dioxin, the most potent human made carcinogen known. Dioxin does not break down in the environment but builds up in the food chain.

“This could be a major environmental and health threat, but the government can’t tell us what we need to know,” said Cino.

The Toronto Environmental Alliance has been promoting the creation of a by-law that would have help residents and firefighters respond to the emergency. Right to Know by-laws, which are common in the United states usually include:

  1. Mandatory disclosure of the use, storage and disposal of toxic chemicals from all Toronto facilities regardless of size.
  2. Public access to this information.
  3. Timely information on the potential exposure and risk to each community.

“We have a right to know what risks are in our neighbourhood, we have a right to know what chemicals are being stored legally in our neighbourhood and we shouldn’t have to wait to find out what risks we are exposed to hours after the damage is done.” said Cino.