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Indoor Air Quality – Legislation

What does Canadian legislation state about the concentration of contaminants in indoor air for non-industrial workplaces?

Many Canadian jurisdictions do not have specific legislation that deals with indoor air quality issues in non-industrial workplaces. In the absence of such legislation, the "general duty clause" applies. This clause, common to all Canadian occupational health and safety legislation, states that an employer must provide a safe and healthy workplace. Thus, making sure the air is of good quality is the employer's duty.

However, there are often ventilation and other requirements that apply to indoor air in occupational health and safety legislation as well as from applicable Building Codes or other standard setting organizations such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Group, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers  (ASHRAE).

Several organizations* have published recommended guidelines for indoor air quality. For example, the Government of Canada has prepared a number of publications on air quality. Note that indoor air reference limits (IARLs) have been published by Health Canada, and other organizations. Other guidelines recommend that contaminants be kept at or below one tenth of their listed OEL.

In addition, IAQ is stated or implied in most building codes as design and operation criteria. Building codes and health and safety legislation in Canada and the U.S. generally refer to a version of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers* (ASHRAE) Standard 62.1-Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality (or previous versions), or other acceptable standards.

Please see the OSH Answers Indoor Air Quality–General for more information.

*We have mentioned these organizations as a means of providing a potentially useful referral. You should contact these organizations directly for more information.


Where is ventilation related to indoor air listed in legislation?

A summary of legislation concerning indoor air quality in non-industrial situations is provided below. This list does not cite the exact text of each section and other legislation may apply. In all cases, consult with your jurisdiction to confirm what legislation applies in your situation, and that the most current legislation is applied. A list of contact information for all Canadian occupational health and safety jurisdictions is available.

Table 1: Summary of regulation and guidelines on indoor air quality (IAQ) or ventilation


Jurisdiction

Legislation Title

Section

NOTE: Other legislation may apply.

Related Publications

Federal

Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
 

Division III, HVAC systems
Sections 2.20 to 2.27

Indoor Air Quality in Office Buildings: A Technical Guide. Health Canada

Alberta

Occupational Health and Safety Code
 

Part 26 – Ventilation systems

Indoor air quality tool kit

British Columbia

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, B.C. Reg. 296/97

 

Part 4, Sections 4.70 to 4.80 Indoor Air Quality

Part 5, Sections 5.60 to 5.71 Ventilation

Part 5, Sections 5.72 to 5.75 Internal Combustion Engines (when operating indoors)

Indoor Air Quality: A Guide for Building Owners, Managers, and Occupants

Manitoba

Workplace Safety and Health Regulation, Man. Reg. 217/2006

Part 4 General Workplace Requirements,  Sections 4.1 to 4.3

 

New Brunswick

General Regulation - Occupational Health and Safety Act, N.B. Reg. 91-191

Part III Indoor Air Quality, Section 19 to 25.2

 

Air Quality

Newfoundland and Labrador

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2012, N.L.R. 5/12

Part VI Occupational Health Requirements, Section 45

 

Northwest Territories

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, R-039-2015

 

Part 6 General Health Requirements, Sections 68 to 74, 81 (smoking)

 

Office Accommodation: Fit-up Technical Standards and Criteria by Public Works and Services NWT

Nova Scotia

Occupational Safety General Regulations

Part 4 - Ventilation, Lighting, Sanitation and Accommodation, Sections 15

 

Nunavut

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, R-003-2016

Part 6 General Health Requirements, Sections 68 to 74, 81 (smoking)

 

Ontario

Industrial Establishment Regulation, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 851

Part III Industrial Hygiene
Section 127 

Ventilation Inspection and Report for Health Care and Residential Facilities

Prince Edward Island

Occupational Health and Safety Act General Regulations, EC180/87

Part 11 – Ventilation
11.1 to 11.11

 

Quebec

Regulation respecting occupational health and safety under the Act respecting occupational health and safety

Division V, Air Quality Section 39

Division XI, Ventilation and Heating, Sections 101 to 114

 

Saskatchewan

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020 (c. S-15.1, Reg 10)

Part VI General Health Requirements,
Sections 6-1 to 6-5, 6-14 (smoking), 21-7 (protection of certain workers)

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality: Investigating Concerns


Yukon

Occupational Health and Safety and Regulations

 

Occupational Health Regulations

Occupational Health and Safety and Regulations, Section 126

Occupational Health Regulations, Section 7 Ventilation

 

Document last updated on December 12, 2022

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