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Glossary of technical terms
    that appear in the LaMPs

Acronyms | Words and definitions

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A reduction in the degree or amount of pollution.


The build-up of a substance in a plant or animal due to repeated exposure to and uptake of that substance from the environment. See also "bioaccumulation."

Acid Deposition

The total amount of pollutants that make up what is commonly referred to as acid rain. This includes both the wet deposition and dry deposition components that settle out of the atmosphere. See "acid rain."

Acid Rain

Occurs when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions are transformed in the atmosphere and return to the earth in rain, fog, or snow. Acid rain can damage lakes, forests, and buildings, contribute to reduced visibility, and may harm human health. Regulations have been implemented at the federal and state level to reduce acid rain. See also "Clean Air Act."

Acute Test

A comparative study in which organisms are subjected to different treatments and observed for a short period, usually not constituting a substantial portion of the organism's life span.

Acute Toxicity

Adverse effects to a plant or animal that result from an acute exposure to a stimulant, such as a pollutant. The exposure usually does not constitute a substantial portion of the life span of the organism. In standard laboratory toxicity tests with aquatic organisms, an effect observed in 96 hours or less is typically considered acute. Also described as a stimulus severe enough to induce an effect.


Fish that live in the Great Lakes and use tributaries for spawning.


A term that describes organisms or processes that require the presence of molecular oxygen.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

The ATSDR was created in 1980 by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund) as an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the principal federal public health agency involved in hazardous waste issues. The ATSDR helps prevent or reduce harmful health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. It is not a regulatory agency, but it advises EPA on health aspects of hazardous waste sites and spills and makes recommendations.

Air Pollution Control Rules-Minnesota

MN state rules regulating air pollution and implementing requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

Air Toxics

Substances that cause or contribute to air pollution and which can cause serious health and environmental hazards, such as cancer or other illnesses. See also Hazardous Air Pollutants. See also "Clean Air Act."


The term has been used to describe those areas where significant portions of air emissions result in the deposition of various air pollutants to specific land or water areas. The airshed may be substantially larger than the watershed.


A small silver-colored fish that is not native to the Great Lakes.


Simple plants found in water and elsewhere that have no roots, flowers, or seeds. These are usually microscopic plants and are the primary producers in lakes. See also phytoplankton and periphyton.


Rare landscape on glaciated horizontal limestone or dolomite bedrock along the Great Lakes shoreline. Alvars are populated by drought-resistant calcium-loving plant species (combination of boreal and prairie species) which are maintained in an open state by drought, wave action and ice formation. These factors retard soil accumulation and the growth of woody species.


Surrounding; usually in reference to existing environmental conditions. For example, ambient water quality would refer to the current water quality conditions in the lake.

Ambient Toxicity

A measurement made using a standard toxicity test to determine how toxic a natural water body is. In some cases a water body may already possess some degree of toxicity before a known pollutant is discharged into it.


A term that describes processes that occur in the absence of molecular oxygen. See also "anoxia."


A condition where dissolved oxygen in the water column is totally depleted. The absence of oxygen or a deficiency of oxygen that is harmful to living organisms. Anoxic conditions can develop in a lake bottom when oxygen is depleted by decomposition processes. This often happens in eutrophic lakes and can result in fish kills. See also "anaerobic."


Of man-made origin, not occurring naturally; human-caused or derived. Effects or processes that are derived from human activities, as opposed to natural effects or processes that occur in the environment without human influence.


A federal policy to ensure that water bodies that have been improved are kept at that higher quality. Point source dischargers are required by governments to meet effluent limits, but if discharges become cleaner, or fall below the limit, they are not allowed to go up again. Relaxation of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit limits are not allowed except in certain, limited circumstances.


A federal policy to protect water quality. The policy states that the existing high quality of a particular water resource cannot get worse unless justified by economic and social development considerations. Contained in the U.S. Water Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System. Also see "Clean Water Act."

Aquatic Life Criteria

Water quality criteria designed to protect aquatic organisms, including fish, plants, and invertebrates. Also see "Great Lakes Initiative" and "Clean Water Act."

Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS)

Water-borne plants or animals that pose a threat to humans, agriculture, fisheries, and/or wildlife resources. See also "non-indigenous species," "zebra mussel," "Bythotrephes," "Eurasian ruffe," and "Eurasian watermilfoil."

Aquatic Nuisance Species Great Lakes Panel

A federal organization formed in 1991 by the Great Lakes Commission to advance exotic species research, monitoring, and control activities. The activities conducted are based on federal legislative and budgetary needs and research and management requirements. Activities include Great Lakes-wide education.

Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force

An international organization that develops and implements programs to prevent the introduction and distribution of aquatic nuisance species. Their goal is to monitor, control, and study these species, and to disseminate technical and educational information. Made up of 19 provincial, state, and federal organizations.

Areas of Concern (AOCs)

Specific areas of 42 tributaries to or bays in the Great Lakes where degraded environmental conditions have created an impairment to human or ecological use of the water body. Areas of the Great Lakes identified by the International Joint Commission as having serious water pollution problems requiring remedial action and the development of a Remedial Action Plan. AOCs are defined in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as: "a geographic area that fails to meet the general or specific objectives of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, or where such failure has caused or is likely to cause impairment of beneficial use or of the areas ability to support aquatic life." Initially, there were 43 AOCs in the Great Lakes Basin. See also "Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement" and "Remedial Action Plans."

Area of Stewardship

An area, most often a watershed, for which a level of ecosystem integrity has been established as a goal and where an integrated, multi-organizational initiative or partnership is actively working to achieve that goal. Examples of such areas include the Chicago Wilderness, the Kalamazoo Multi-Jurisdictional Watershed Agreement, and the work in Grand Traverse Bay and Door County.

Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)

The federal agency that administers the Section 404 permit program on dredging or filling navigable waters, including wetlands.

Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC)

One of several regional development commissions located throughout Minnesota, this one serves seven counties in northeastern Minnesota. Through its mission to provide local leadership it is involved in many issues related to the environment in the Lake Superior basin.

Arsenic (As)

Arsenic is one of 11 pollutants of concern addressed in the LaMPs. It is an inorganic pollutant which is naturally occurring in the environment as well as being used for the hardening of copper, lead, and alloys. The major use of arsenic in the U.S. is as a wood preservative.

Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sediments Program

The 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act added Section 118(c)(3), authorizing the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) to coordinate and conduct a five year study and demonstration project related to the appropriate treatment of toxic pollutants in the sediments of the Great Lakes. ARCS was an integrated program which examined new and innovative ways to both assess and treat contaminated sediments. Five sites were given priority for study, including Sheboygan Harbor, Wisconsin and the Grand Calumet River, Indiana. Information from the ARCS Program will be used to guide the development of remedial action plans and lakewide management plans.

Atmospheric Deposition

Pollution that travels through the air and falls on land and water. Also see "Clean Air Act" and "Great Lakes Toxic Reduction Effort."

Atmospheric Exchange Over Lakes and Oceans Study (AELOS)

AELOS was a monitoring and modeling study initiated in 1993 by five universities conducted in and downwind of Baltimore and Chicago areas for nitrogen and toxics, respectively. The objectives of the study were (1) dry depositional fluxes of critical urban contaminants to northern Chesapeake Bay off Baltimore and southern Lake Michigan off Chicago; (2) the contribution of urban source categories to measured atmospheric concentrations and deposition; and (3) air-water exchange of contaminants and their partitioning into aquatic phases. The monitoring in Lake Michigan included mercury, PCBs, PAHs, and trace metals.


Atrazine is one of three emerging pollutants addressed by the LaMPs. It is a widely used herbicide for the control of broadleaf and grassy weeds in corn, sorghum, rangeland, sugarcane, macadamia orchards, pineapple, turf grass sod, forestry, grasslands, grass crops, and roses. It has been used in the Great Lakes basin since 1959 and most heavily used in 1987-89.

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