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Great Lakes Article:

Canada U.S. Border Air Quality is Poor

Globe and Mail Update

Air along the border between Canada and the United States remains almost as polluted as it was four years ago, despite pledges by both countries to clean it up, says a report released by an international pollution watchdog.

The 2002 Report on Transboundary Air Quality, issued Tuesday by an advisory board to the International Joint Commission, notes that commitments were made by both federal governments to reduce air pollution and toughen automobile-emission standards.

A spokesman for the board said, however, that carcinogens such as mercury and dioxin remain in roughly the same concentrations in the air above southern Canada and the northern United States.

The pollution is fuelled not only by exhaust emission from millions of cars and the chimney stacks of industry, but by the coal-burning electricity plants of Canada and its neighbour.

"What the report card shows," Ted Bailey said, "is that there needs to be more monitoring of the presence of mercury and other toxins like dioxin, which remains unmonitored."

Both Canadian and U.S. governments have commited themselves to improving the monitoring of pollution emissions and to introducing new legislation to curb the level of pollutants spewing from the tailpipes of cars, the report says.

Nitrogen oxide, a major factor in the development of acid rain, remains in unacceptably high concentrations, Mr. Bailey told Tuesday, saying it should continue to spur the governments efforts to clean up the air.

The United States and Canada signed the Air Quality Agreement in 1991 setting a framework for cross-border co-operation on air-quality issues.

Progress has been slowed, however, by a reluctance by both parties to restrict or eliminate coal-burning plants.

Environmentalist say that it is emission from those plants, most often electricity-generation facilities, that contributes, more than anything else, to the smog in both countries.

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