HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's health minister says the level of emissions from the Northern Pulp mill can't continue over the long term.

Leo Glavine says modern mills do not spew effluent or substances into the air to the degree seen recently at the Pictou mill.

"I'm very familiar with the daily operations of several mills ... and there is nothing comparable to what is happening in Pictou," he said in an interview on Tuesday.

Glavine says he hopes to see an improvement in emissions during a September shutdown at the mill and he expects a dramatic improvement once the facility gets a new precipitator in place next year.

"There's a lot of work to be done," he said.

"In the short term I think we'll see some improvement this fall, but the precipitator is definitely the answer."

Tests conducted last year showed the mill was producing emissions that were 78 per cent above legal limits.

The company says there has been a 25 per cent improvement in particulate levels since then and a new round of testing is slated to begin on Monday.

Glavine says he hopes to get test results earlier than usual so he can consult on possible next steps with the Environment Department, which is responsible for regulations governing the mill's emissions.

Glavine has said there are no imminent health threats as a result of the problems at the mill.