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U.S. Environmental Protection  Agency and Environment Canada announced
today that levels of the most critical, persistent pollutants around the
Great Lakes - including mercury, dioxin, benzo(a)pyrene, and
hexachlorobenzene - continued to go down in 2002.  According to the
agencies' 2002 Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy Progress Report,
these reductions are part of a downward trend in toxic substances in the
Great Lakes over the last 15 years.

Since 1988, mercury emissions in Ontario have gone down 78 percent.  On
the U.S. side, mercury releases have been reduced by  40 percent since
1990.   There was a similar substantial reduction in dioxin releases on
both sides of the border since the late 1980s, 92 percent in the United
States and 79 percent in Canada.  Since 1990, hexachlorobenzene
emissions went down 75 percent in the United States and 65 percent in
Canada and benzo(a)pyrene went down 48 percent in Canada and 25 percent
in the United States.

Success in reducing these pollutants has been due to a combination of
stronger regulations and voluntary actions.  Some of the voluntary
projects undertaken in 2002 were:

-  Industry phase-out of the use of PCBs.  Participating companies
included Algoma Steel in Canada and Ford Motor Co. in the United States;

-  The "Burn-it-Smart!" campaign in Ontario which promotes cleaner
wood-burning technologies, helping to reduce emissions of benzo (a)
pyrene; and

-  The Burn Barrel and Household Garbage campaign which educates the
public that burning garbage is a source of dioxin and promotes clean
alternatives to this common practice.

"The ultimate goal of the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy
remains the virtual elimination of persistent toxic substances into the
Great Lakes basin and I am pleased at the tremendous progress made so
far," said John Mills, regional director general of Environment Canada's
Ontario Region. "Attention now turns to the next five years and the
additional progress we can make toward virtual elimination."

"The focus of this strategy is on pollution prevention and voluntary
efforts," said U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Manager and
Regional Administrator Thomas Skinner.  "The key to success is working
in partnership with industry and improving public awareness.  We need
more innovative programs that offer incentives for those who emphasize
pollution reduction."

The Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy is an agreement between
Canada and the United States to reduce or eliminate persistent,
bioaccumulative toxic substances from the the Great Lakes basin.
Environment Canada, EPA, tribes, First Nations and other government,
public and private partners work together toward that goal.  2002 marks
the halfway point in the 10-year timeline of the strategy, which was
established in 1997.

Level 1, or priority, substances identified by the strategy are mercury,
PCBs, dioxins/furans, hexachlorobenzene, benzo(a)pyrene,
octachlorostyrene, alkyl lead, aldrin, dieldrin, mirex, chlordane,
toxaphene and DDT.

The report is available on www.binational.net/bns/2002.

For further information, please contact:

Jack Saunders                                 Phillippa Cannon
Communications Advisor - Media Relations      Office of Public Affairs
Environment Canada, Ontario Region            U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency
(416) 739-4785                                (312) 353-6218

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