The International Joint Commission role in transboundary air quality reaches back to 1928, when the Commission responded to a reference from the U.S. and Canadian governments to examine issues associated with emissions from the Trail Smelter in British Columbia.
The International Joint Commission has been asked by the governments to examine transboundary air quality matters several times in the last 50 years. In 1966 the Governments asked the Commission to examine air quality issues in the Detroit-Windsor and Port Huron-Sarnia corridors and, as appropriate, also to draw air pollution problems along the entire Canada-U.S. boundary to the attention of Governments. In 1975 the governments made a second reference to the Commission, requesting an annual report on the state of air quality in the Detroit-Windsor and Port Huron areas, and in 1988, the governments asked the Commission to report on the hazards posed to human and environmental health from airborne emissions in the Detroit-Windsor area.
The Commission established the International Air Quality Advisory Board to identify and provide advice on air pollution issues with transboundary implications. On June 13th, 2012, Commissioners agreed to conclude the work of the International Air Quality Advisory Board.
The IJC continues to fulfill its responsibilities of alerting governments to air pollution matters affecting transboundary waters. Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Commission also examines and reports, as appropriate, on air pollution matters that may affect the quality of the Great Lakes. Listed below are recent IJC publications on air pollution matters.
OIJC Air Quality Publications:
- Atmospheric Deposition of Mercury in the Great Lakes, December 2015
- Report on Air Quality Issues related to the Northern Boundary Region between Canada and the United States, April 2012 (IAQAB)
- Second Expert Consultation Meeting on Air Quality Issues related to the Northern Boundary Region between the United States and Canada, August 2010
- Expert Consultation Meeting on Air Quality Issues related to the Northern Boundary Region between the United States and Canada, March 2010
- Meeting our Electrical Energy Needs to 2030: A Review of Energy and Environmental Factors, May 2008
Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement
Signed in 1991, The Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement committed the two countries to significantly reducing emissions of pollutants that cause acid rain and contribute to smog. It also set up an Air Quality Committee to report every two years on progress.
"...transboundary air pollution can effectively be reduced through cooperative or coordinated action providing for controlling emissions of air pollutants in both countries"
The Canada – United States Air Quality Agreement
Under the agreement, the IJC invites public comment every two years and provides a synthesis of comments to the governments of Canada and the United States to assist them with the implementation of the Agreement.
Progress Reports and Records of Public Comment