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Drinking water Recreational water Fish consumption Lake by lake Other issues Resources and references

Other issues in the Great Lakes

Other health issues
    in the Great Lakes

Apart from the major Great Lakes health concerns of drinking water, recreational water, and fish consumption, there are a number of related issues that are interconnected to air and water quality, pollution and contamination, agriculture and industry, and wildlife.

Air quality | Bacterial infection and beach closings | Chlorination by-products
Contaminated soils and sediments | Industrial and agricultural use of water
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) | Radiation | Wildlife populations

Air quality
Air pollution as it relates to the air we breathe is a key human health issue for the Great Lakes basin. Improvement and protection of air quality in the Great Lakes region are among the ecosystem objectives set out in the Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) documents. Canada and the United States have also forged a binational air quality agreement setting objectives for air quality. Additonally, there are active programs and initiatives in both the U.S. and Canada that address these issues.

For the United States, the Clean Air Act, implemented by the U.S. EPA Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) and state agencies, is primarily responsible for ensuring the quality of ambient air by regulating point and mobile source emissions to the environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration implements the Occupational Safety and Health Act which protects health in the workplace - including health related to air quality.

In Canada, Health Canada conducts air pollution health effects research, risk assessments and exposure guidelines creation through the Safe Environments Programme within the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch (HECSB). Environment Canada addresses air pollution, transboundary pollution, improving environmental monitoring, reducing industrial emissions, and working to lower vehicle emissions and increase fuel efficiency. The Province of Ontario also has programs targeted at the protection of humans from exposure to air pollution.

Atmospheric deposition is a significant source of certain toxic pollutants entering the Great Lakes. In fact, as much as 90 percent of some toxic loadings to the Great Lakes are believed to be the result of airborne deposition. Because the transport and deposition of airborne toxics is not localized, this phenomenon needs to be evaluated and regulated on a regional or even international scale.

Efforts to understand and curtail atmospheric deposition are underway by various agencies, such as the EPA Great Waters Program. These efforts include emissions inventories, modeling and mass balance studies for Lake Michigan and Green Bay that inform new laws and policies. Such efforts will help us to understand and combat atmospheric deposition of pollution on the Great Lakes.

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