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Great Lakes Article:

U.S., 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."

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