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GLIN==> New Report: Air Toxics Significant Pollution Source for Lake Michigan

Posted on behalf of Kate Blumberg <kateblumberg@delta-institute.org>

Air Toxics Significant Pollution Source for Lake Michigan
Press Release

Tim Brown or Kate Blumberg
Delta Institute

Valerie Denney
Valerie Denney Communications

Air Toxics Significant Pollution Source for Lake Michigan

PCB, Dioxin Entering Lake Threatens Human Health, Water Quality Goals

(Chicago) Toxic chemicals and metals - including seven chemicals included in
the "dirty dozen" now subject to international phase out under a new United
Nations treaty - continue to enter Lake Michigan in dangerous amounts and
threaten the health of both humans and the ecosystem, according to a new
report released today.

Reducing Toxic Air Pollution in Lake Michigan brings together the most
recent scientific data on air toxics in Lake Michigan and demonstrates that
the atmosphere - through precipitation, gas exchange, and airborne
particles - is a significant method by which PCBs, mercury, dioxin,
pesticides, and other air toxics enter the Lake. Though standards and
reduction timelines are in place for other regional air pollution problems
such as acid rain, ozone and regional haze, no comprehensive program exists
for reducing atmospheric deposition of chemicals to Lake Michigan.

"The science shows that if we do not address air deposition of toxic
pollutants, we will not meet our water quality goals for a very long time,"
said Gary Gulezian, Director, Great Lakes Program Office, and U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The report comes just two weeks before nations from around the globe adopt
the world's first global, legally binding treaty to eliminate a dozen highly
toxic and persistent chemicals known as POPs (persistent organic
pollutants). The study released today demonstrates that a number of these
chemicals, as well as other pollutants, continue to create human health
hazards in the Great Lakes Region. Fish consumption advisories, for example,
warn people to strictly limit their intake of Great Lakes fish due to these

"We have better source controls, and water quality in the Great Lakes has
improved significantly since the 1970s. Still, lake-wide contamination
problems persist because of the pollution entering the lake from atmospheric
deposition," said Tim Brown, Co-Director, Delta Institute. "Scientists have
been describing this problem in the Great Lakes for some time. Now it's time
to do something about it."

Key findings of the report include (see attached sheet for specific health
effects associated with Lake Michigan toxic pollutants).


Most dioxins and furans enter Lake Michigan via the atmosphere as a result
of municipal and medical waste incineration, cement kilns burning hazardous
waste, and burning solid waste in back yard or construction site barrels.

Sources within 250 miles of the Lake are responsible for 70 percent of the
dioxins in the Lake; 40 percent from within 60 miles of the Lake.


More than 80 percent of 3,200 kilograms of PCBs that enter the lake each
year enter via the atmosphere. The Chicago region is the source for up to
20% of those PCB depositions.

PCBs volatilize into the atmosphere from sources such as landfills, sludge
drying beds, transformer storage yards and incinerators. Examples of sources
in the Chicago region include Calumet East Drying Beds, CID Landfill, and a
ComEd Transformer Storage Yard.


1,138 kg of mercury is deposited into Lake Michigan annually from the
atmosphere - 86% of the total. Coal burning power plants and other fossil
fuels are responsible for over one half of the national mercury emissions.
Waste incineration counts for close to 40%.


2,790 kg of atrazine is deposited into Lake Michigan each year from the
atmosphere. This is approximately 25% of the total that enters Lake
Michigan, but the atmosphere may be underestimated because this only
accounts for atrazine in rain, not in the gas phase.

In addition to these chemicals, the report also provides information about
chlordane, DDT, lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, hexachlorobenzene, and

The report's recommendations have been adopted by the Lake Michigan Forum, a
stakeholders group that provides input into the development and
implementation of the Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) for Lake Michigan - a
process required by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the
United States and Canada. According to Dr. Janet Vail, Co-chair of the Lake
Michigan Forum, "This is a very significant study that could lead to
immediate action on this issue."

Key recommendations call on state and federal agencies to work together to:

Set targets for the reduction of atmospheric deposition of toxic chemicals
in Lake Michigan.

Develop a comprehensive inventory of regional air toxic sources.

Coordinate state and federal environmental programs to quantifiably reduce
air toxic emissions.

Use regulatory and non-regulatory means to reduce air toxics including,
energy conservation and efficiency, and land use and transportation

Coordinate and target modeling and monitoring efforts in order to set goals,
track reductions, and identify effective controls.

Organize a Lake Michigan Air Deposition of Toxics Task Force to oversee and
advocate for the implementation of this strategy.

The Delta Institute was formed in 1998 and is a non-profit organization that
works to improve environmental quality and promote community and economic
development in the Great Lakes region.

Download the full report, Reducing Toxic Air Pollution in Lake Michigan, at

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