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December 1, 1998

MEDIA RELEASE

Air quality issues must be addressed by the United States and Canada in a comprehensive and integrated manner

The International Joint Commission (Commission) today released a Special Report on Transboundary Air Quality Issues prepared by its International Air Quality Advisory Board (IAQAB). It highlights many significant transboundary air quality issues facing Canada and the United States and makes a series of recommendations to address those issues. The Commission has endorsed the recommendations contained in the report and has urged the Canadian and U.S. governments to move toward a more fully integrated approach to management of transboundary air quality issues that are having an affect on human health and the environment.

Among the recommendations, the Commission highlights the following:

  • From an air quality perspective, the transboundary region should be managed in as seamless a manner as possible, as air pollutants are not restrained by political boundaries.
  • Jurisdictions on both sides of the border should move towards a fully integrated approach to air issues management. The Transboundary Air Pollution Transport Regions (TAPTRs) concept identified by the Board provides a focus for further joint efforts by the governments.
  • Sustained cooperation is required between Canada and the United States to deal with transboundary air quality issues. Compatibility in methodologies relating to monitoring, and data collection and research is needed to better understand and take action on transboundary air quality issues.

In addition the IAQAB presents a rationale for a more concentrated focus on nitrogen oxides as the pivotal pollutants for the next decade. These pollutants are a consequence of various combustion processes, such as coal-fired power plants, and automobile emissions. They play a role in the formation of ground level ozone, particulate matter, acid deposition, and contribute to smog, thereby having a significant affect on ecosystem and human health.

The report reiterates the Board's position calling for low levels of sulphur in gasoline and notes the IJC's previous advice to the governments for appropriate action on this matter.

The International Joint Commission is a binational organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. It assists governments in managing waters along the border and alerts them to air quality issues of transboundary concern. More information, including the Special Report on Transboundary Air Quality Issues, may be found on the IJC's web site: www.ijc.org.

Contacts: Washington, D.C.: Frank Bevacqua (202) 736-9024
Ottawa, ON: Fabien Lengellé (613) 995-0088

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