Canada Say Toxics in Great Lakes Have Decreased
Environment News Service
WASHINGTON, DC, March 21, 2003 (ENS) - The environmental
agencies of the United States and Canada announced Friday
that the levels of the most critical persistent pollutants
around the Great Lakes continued to decrease in 2002.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Environment
Canada issued the "2002 Great Lakes Binational Toxics
Strategy Progress Report," which finds levels of
toxics continue to decline, part of a downward trend in
toxic substances in the Great Lakes over the last 15 years.
The Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy is a plan
formed in 1997 by the two nations to reduce or eliminate
persistent, bioaccumulative toxic substances from the
Great Lakes basin.
"The focus of this strategy is on pollution prevention
and voluntary efforts," said U.S. EPA Great Lakes
National Program Manager and Regional Administrator Thomas
Skinner. "The key to success is working in partnership
with industry and improving public awareness. We need
more innovative programs that offer incentives for those
who emphasize pollution reduction."
The priority substances identified by the strategy are
mercury, PCBs, dioxins/furans, hexachlorobenzene, benzo(a)pyrene,
octachlorostyrene, alkyl lead, aldrin, dieldrin, mirex,
chlordane, toxaphene and DDT. They are all toxics, and
many of them are on the list for worldwide elimination
under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
The report highlights a 78 percent reduction in mercury
emissions in Ontario since 1988 and a decrease in mercury
of some 40 percent on the U.S. side since 1990.
Dioxin releases on both sides of the Great Lakes have
declined since the late 1980s by some 92 percent in the
United States and 79 percent in Canada.
The nations cited their efforts to reduce hexachlorobenzene,
Canada by 65 percent and the United States by 75 percent,
since 1990. Another highlight in the report is the reduction,
since 1990, of benzo(a)pyrene went down 48 percent in
Canada and 25 percent in the United States.
"I am pleased at the tremendous progress thus far,"
said John Mills, regional director general of Environment
Canada's Ontario Region. "Attention now turns to
the next five years and the additional progress we can
make toward virtual elimination."