The national public health position on which the CAQ government relies to raise the nickel in the air standard “will not be reviewed”, even if the organization analyzes new alarming information.
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Friday morning, our Parliamentary Office revealed that "in a constant concern to prioritize the health and safety of the population, the General Directorate of Public Health (DGSP)", was going to analyze new facts in the worrying file of nickel in the air. .
However, despite this analysis, “the position of the DGSP, issued prior to the decision taken by the government to raise the nickel standard, will not be reviewed. The new threshold is in effect,” Health Ministry spokesman Robert Maranda said.
“There is no information to suggest that this work, carried out before the deployment of the new regulations from the Ministry of the Environment, was to be resumed. And this is always right.”
The director of public health, Dr. Luc Boileau, “does not grant an interview on the subject”, also specifies the ministry.
However, he assures us that he takes "his responsibilities" to protect the health of the population.
"We will continue to assess new scientific knowledge, available data on emissions and ambient air quality, the scope of preventive measures deployed and any other relevant information that may give us indications of potential risks to the environment. health of the population,” writes the spokesperson.
The president of the Quebec Association of Physicians for the Environment, Dr. Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers, recently alerted public health to new disturbing elements related to the file.
Nickel in the form of pentlandite, a sulphide which could be carcinogenic and which is found in the air of Quebec City, would not have been taken into consideration.
Then, the DGSP, then under the leadership of Dr Horacio Arruda, would have based itself on a literature review whose expertise stopped in 2011. However, a much more recent review and which stretches until 2021 exists, argues the Association.
After the release of the Association, the Minister of the Environment quickly claimed that the information disclosed was "inaccurate".
However, this information had not yet been analyzed by National Public Health.
Coming into force last April, the new air quality regulation allows the chemical and mining industries to quintuple nickel emissions into the air.
This is a new daily standard of 70 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) in addition to an annual standard of 20 ng/m3.
For several months, criticism and concerns have been coming from everywhere, as much from scientists, elected officials and citizens.
Even the 18 regional public health departments in Quebec oppose this increase.
Prime Minister François Legault pointed out during the study of the credits that this increase was necessary to “be able” to manufacture the batteries and create “paying jobs”.
The Ministry of Health recalls that it is not public health that sets the standard, but the Ministry of the Environment.