Jump to main content.

Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy



Back to Index
exit EPA (About PDF)


The Canada-United States Strategy for the Virtual Elimination of Persistent Toxic Substances in the Great Lakes Basin, known as the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy (PDF) (24pp, 117kb) is available for your information. The Strategy provides a framework for actions to reduce or eliminate persistent toxic substances, especially those which bioaccumulate, from the Great Lakes Basin. The Strategy was developed jointly by Canada and the United States in 1996 and 1997 and was signed April 7, 1997.

The Strategy establishes reduction challenges for an initial list of persistent toxic substances targeted for virtual elimination: aldrin/dieldrin, benzo(a)pyrene, chlordane, DDT, hexachlorobenzene, alkyl-lead, mercury and compounds, mirex, octachlorostyrene, PCBs, dioxins and furans, and toxaphene. These substances have been associated with widespread, long-term adverse effects on wildlife in the Great Lakes, and, through their bioaccumulation, are of concern for human health. This is the first time specific reduction targets have been set jointly by the two countries.

Recognizing the long-term nature of virtual elimination, the Strategy provides the framework for actions to achieve quantifiable reduction "challenges" in the timeframe 1997 to 2006 for specific toxic substances. Flexibility is provided in the Strategy to allow for the revision of challenges, timeframes and the list of substances. The development of baseline measurements for tracking and measuring progress toward reductions is also a key element of the Strategy. A "Technical Support Document" appended to the Strategy provides action items that will be undertaken to pursue reductions.

From the beginning, USEPA and Environment Canada have involved state, Provincial, tribal, industrial, environmental and other interested parties, recognizing that the governments alone cannot achieve the goal of virtual elimination -- all parts of society must cooperate to ensure success. In implementing the Strategy, the two countries will continue to build this vital partnership.

The Binational Toxics Strategy has been developed under the auspices of the Binational Executive Committee (BEC), which is charged with coordinating the implementation of the binational aspects of the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The BEC is co-chaired by Environment Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and includes representatives from the Great Lakes states, the Province of Ontario, as well as other federal agencies in Canada and the U.S.

The purpose of this binational strategy is to set forth a collaborative process by which Canada and the U.S. will work towards the goal of virtual elimination of persistent toxic substances resulting from human activity, particularly those which bioaccumulate, from the Great Lakes basin, so as to protect and ensure the health and integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem. The goal of virtual elimination will be achieved through a variety of programs and actions, but the primary emphasis will be on pollution prevention.

The Strategy reaffirms the two countries’ commitment to the sound management of chemicals, as stated in Agenda 21: A Global Action Plan for the 21st Century and adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The Strategy will also be guided by the principles articulated by the International Joint Commission’ s Virtual Elimination Task Force in the Seventh Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality.

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.