Quebec public health wants smelter's arsenic emissions cut to 5 times provincial norm

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MONTREAL — Quebec's public health director is recommending that arsenic emissions in a northwestern Quebec city be reduced to five times the provincial standard.

Dr. Luc Boileau told reporters today that an average emissions level of 15 nanograms of arsenic per cubic metre of air would be a safe level in Rouyn-Noranda, as air quality in the city is "eventually" improved to meet the provincial standard of three nanograms per cubic metre.

He says the new recommendations would reduce the risk of cancer in the area, as well as protect unborn babies and young children.

The Horne Smelter in the city about around 500 kilometres northwest of Ottawa is currently allowed to emit 100 nanograms of arsenic per cubic metre of air — 33 times the provincial standard.

That agreement is under review by the provincial government.

Boileau says it could take a couple years for arsenic emissions from the smelter to meet the new recommendation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press