Air quality objective setting
One way that governments manage air quality is to establish ambient air quality objectives. These objectives identify levels of pollutants in the air that deemed to be scientifically acceptable. Although these standards are not legally binding, they are relied on by government regulators for guidance when issuing emission permits and in development of regulations and policy.
While most Canadian jurisdictions have set ambient air quality objectives, these objectives are often criticized on the ground that they do not require or mandate government action. Also many of these objectives were set years, sometimes decades, ago and do not reflect current scientific knowledge.
The federal and provincial governments are currently trying to update our national objectives by negotiating new Canada Wide Standards (CWS) for a variety of pollutants. Currently there are CWS for ozone, nitogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. New standards are pending for fine particulate, ground level ozone and benzene.