Guidelines

Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (CEQGs) provide science-based goals for the quality of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

 In the Resource Browser users will find: 

  • chemical-specific guideline fact sheets, categorized by media, which summarize the guideline and key scientific information for each substance 
  • scientific criteria documents (formerly called scientific supporting documents), which provide detailed scientific background and rationale for the derivation of the guidelines 
  • the protocols used for developing the guidelines, along with their associated implementation guidance
  • a spreadsheet calculator for the Water Quality Index.

Users can also search CEQGs by chemical or media through an interactive summary table. The summary table links to the fact sheets and scientific criteria documents which provide implementation guidance pertaining to each environmental quality guideline.

View summary table

Current work includes development of:


  • soil and groundwater quality guidelines for the protection of environmental and human health for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
  • groundwater quality guidelines for the protection of environmental and human health for 101 chemicals of concern
  • soil vapour quality guidelines for the protection of human health for 40 chemicals of concern
  • an update to the soil quality guidelines for the protection of human health for lead
  • water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life for 5 neonicotinoid insecticides.

     

CCME guidelines are voluntary. Readers are advised to consult with the federal, provincial or territorial authority having jurisdiction to see whether a CCME guideline applies to their area of interest. 

Description of CEQG Media

Canadian Groundwater Quality Guidelines for Use at Contaminated Sites 

These guidelines are concentrations of contaminants in groundwater below which minimal or no adverse ecological effects and no appreciable human health risk are expected from long-term exposure. They are developed to either maintain specific uses of groundwater or protect receptors in environments that may directly or indirectly come into contact with contaminated groundwater due to contaminant migration. 

Canadian Sediment Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life

These guidelines are numerical concentrations or narrative statements intended to protect all forms of freshwater and marine (including estuarine) aquatic life during all aspects of their aquatic life cycles for an indefinite period of exposure to substances associated with bed sediments. 

Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Environmental and Human Health

These guidelines are developed for both ecological and human receptors that may be exposed to contaminants through a range of pathways associated with four land use categories. Soil with contaminants present at the guideline levels will provide a healthy functioning ecosystem capable of sustaining the current and likely future uses of the site by ecological receptors and humans. 

Canadian Soil Vapour Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Human Exposure Via Inhalation of Vapours

These guidelines are concentrations in soil vapour at or below which no appreciable human health risk is expected from long-term exposure. They are intended to be used for assessing in-place contaminants in soil and/or groundwater that can generate soil vapour. 

Canadian Tissue Residue Guidelines for the Protection of Wildlife Consumers of Aquatic Biota

These guidelines consist of the maximum concentration of a chemical substance in the tissue of aquatic prey items that is not expected to result in adverse effects in wildlife that consume them. They can apply to any aquatic species consumed by wildlife, including fish, shellfish, other invertebrates, or aquatic plants. 

Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Agricultural Water Uses

These guidelines are developed for agricultural applications in irrigation to protect the most sensitive species and life stages of agricultural crops that may be exposed to toxic substances in irrigation water and for livestock water to provide recommended concentration limits on contaminants in livestock water above which possible harm to livestock may result. 

Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life

These guidelines are intended to protect all forms of aquatic life and all aspects of aquatic life cycles, including the most sensitive life stage of the most sensitive species over the long term from anthropogenic stressors such as chemical inputs or changes to physical components. They provide the science-based benchmark for a nationally consistent level of protection for aquatic life in Canada.