Announcement: January 27, 2004
International Joint Commission Releases
Summary of Critical Air Quality Issues Between
Canada and the United States - Encourages Continued Action
Click here for the Full Report in: PDF Format HTML Format
The International Joint Commission today released the report Summary of Critical Air Quality Issues in the Transboundary Region, highlighting
a number of significant transboundary air quality issues facing Canada and the
United States. The report makes a series of recommendations to enhance efforts
to preserve and improve air quality in the transboundary region. Although actions
have been taken on several of the issues, much remains to be done.
The report, written by the Commission’s International Air Quality Advisory
Board, lays out a concise analysis of seven issues detailing the story behind
each issue, what it means, and presents recommendations for action to improve
air quality in the transboundary region. The report provides information that
can be useful in stimulating discussion among interested groups and encouraging
the governments to fully utilize the potential of their 1991 Canada-U.S. Air Quality
Agreement as a framework for enhanced cross-border cooperation and a more integrated
approach to addressing transboundary air quality issues. This report focuses on
specific transboundary air pollution issues, some of which are currently addressed
under the agreement.
Critical issues addressed in the report
- Many of the “dirty dozen” persistent toxics are diminishing in the Great Lakes;
however several persist in wildlife, particularly fish, posing a health threat
to significant subpopulations. Those that remain are primarily from regional and
global atmospheric transport and new persistent pollutants are taking their place.
- Global mercury emissions remain unchanged as reductions in North America are
offset by increases in Asian contributions. Regional and global transport and
deposition continue to contribute to unhealthy concentrations in fish and humans.
- Further reductions in emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides
from boats, ships, planes, construction equipment and small gasoline engines are
- Nitrogen compounds, such as nitrogen dioxide, a precursor to acid rain and
ground level ozone, remain pivotal. More focus is needed on ammonia emissions
from large animal feedlots and other sources.
- A further review of efforts to prevent deterioration of air quality in non
urban, relatively clean, designated areas is necessary.
- The availability of new public information tools, such as the Internet, including
air quality indices and/or health based advisories, is stimulating great public
interest and concern regarding air quality. A consistency of message among the
various alerting tools used in the transboundary region is needed.
- How well are air quality management programs performing? Inventories, monitoring
and analyses all need renewal to continue to provide relevant verification and
The International Joint Commission is a binational organization established
by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. It provides advice to the governments of
Canada and the United States on boundary waters and on air quality issues of transboundary
concern. In 1966 the governments asked the International Joint Commission to observe
air quality along the entire Canada and United States boundary and, as appropriate,
draw air pollution problems to the attention of governments. The Commission established
the International Air Quality Advisory Board to identify and provide advice on
air pollution issues with transboundary implications. The board includes five
from Canada and five from the United States who have expertise in various aspects
of air quality, emission control and the health impacts of air pollutants. They
are appointed by the Commission and serve as advisors in their personal and professional
This report and others prepared by the International Air Quality Board are
available on the IJC’s web site at: www.ijc.org.
For more information, please contact:
||Windsor, ON /Detroit, MI
(313) 226-2170 ext. 6733