International Joint Commission Great Lakes Roundtable

October 31, 1997


This brief summary of the IJC's Great Lakes Roundtable provides preliminary perspectives on the meeting highlights for presentation to the Agreement Public Forum on November 1, 1997. A full report on the Roundtable proceedings will be prepared in the coming weeks.

The Issue ... There is increasing scientific evidence that certain persistent toxic substances (such as DDT and PCBs) have, and continue to cause injury to humans in the Great Lakes Basin. Recent human health studies indicate that: (1) reproductive functions may be disrupted by exposure to PCBs and other PTSs; (2) neurobehavioral and developmental deficits occur in newborns and continue through school-age children from in utero exposure to PCBs and other PTSs; (3) other systemic effects, e.g. liver disease and diabetes, may be associated with elevated serum levels of PCBs; and (4) increased cancer risks are associated with PCB exposure.

The Roundtable Purpose ... To identify and explore potential strategies to address this issue, and provide advice to the IJC on priorities for action.

The Roundtable Participants ... Approximately 30 representatives from a broad cross-section of sectors and perspectives, including: agriculture, communication, education, environmental non-government, government, industry, labour, Native American/First Nations, research, social and economic. Another 40 people observed the Roundtable discussions.

Advice to the IJC -- Priorities for Action ... Roundtable participants identified the following priorities to address the issue of injury:

The IJC will use the advice from the Roundtable as it prepares its Ninth Biennial Report to Governments, to be released in 1998.