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GLIN==> Emissions inventory provides a picture of toxic air pollution in the Great Lakes region


June 2, 2006


Emissions inventory provides a picture of toxic air pollution in the Great Lakes region


Ann Arbor, Mich. - The Great Lakes Commission has announced the release of the newest edition of the Great Lakes Regional Toxic Air Emissions Inventory. Based on estimates of 2002 air emissions provided by the eight Great Lakes states and the province of Ontario, the inventory covers emissions from more than 2,000 categories of air pollution sources, including industrial facilities, automobiles, small engines and many others.


This is the sixth year of data that has been compiled for the regional inventory. Its completion marks continued progress toward obtaining comprehensive coverage of toxic emission sources in the Great Lakes region and achieving data reporting consistency among the eight states and Ontario.


The inventory includes releases of nearly 200 chemicals, intended to represent all those identified as Hazardous Air Pollutants in the Clean Air Act, and emissions estimates from nearly 12,000 industrial facilities across the region. In all, it estimates approximately 2.47 billion pounds of toxic air emissions for the entire region, which covers a total population of more than 90 million people.


A regional inventory of this type is particularly valuable for the Great Lakes region due to health concerns from pollutants, such as mercury, which enter the Great Lakes from the air. Their large surface areas, long water retention times and other factors make the Great Lakes particularly susceptible to such problems. Many toxic pollutants that are originally released to the air will deposit to land and waterways in large quantities, either in precipitation, attached to particles, or as gasses.


“Many of the toxic pollution problems we face today in the Great Lakes and in our other water bodies have their origin in the atmosphere,” said Cathy Curran Myers, deputy secretary for water management at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. “Understanding where these emissions are occurring is the first step to being able to protect our lakes, or wildlife and our people from these toxic substances.”


Total estimated emissions in this latest inventory are lower than in previous years, but may not reflect a decline in overall emissions. Changes in methodology, including the addition of more types of sources and improvements in estimation techniques and measurements, can lead to changes in emission estimates that do not necessarily reflect changes in actual emissions.


“Our partners in producing this inventory have made a clear choice to continually improve their methods, in an effort to achieve the best emission estimates possible,” said Thomas Crane, interim executive director of the Great Lakes Commission. “Although this makes it more difficult to detect changes from year to year, it increases our ability to say with confidence where these toxic chemicals are coming from and what might be done to best protect our lakes and our people.”


The Great Lakes regional inventory is a longstanding and unique partnership among the eight Great Lakes states and the province of Ontario. The nine participants not only share emissions estimates as part of the regional project, but also work together to improve estimation methods and to share and compare their procedures and information.


“This partnership has led to significant improvements in the toxic air emissions inventories on both sides of the border,” said Crane. “As well, it has provided the participating states and province a unique opportunity to work collaboratively in addressing this Great Lakes issue which is shared by both countries. Beyond just sharing of information, this project has led to making that information more consistent in terms of how it is produced and reported.”


The inventory data have been used for a variety of purposes by the participating states and province, as well as by other agencies and organizations. For example, the data have been used to assess health risks, prioritize state and federal pollution prevention activities, supporting permit review and tracking, assisting community groups and researchers, and much more.


The report of the 2002 Great Lakes Regional Air Toxic Emissions Inventory is available online through the Great Lakes Commission’s web site at www.glc.org/air. In addition, the emissions estimates can be viewed through the Centralized Air emissions Repository On-Line (CAROL), an interactive website capable of producing maps, charts and tables of the toxic air emissions information at http://mds.glc.org/carol.


For more information, contact:

Jon Dettling, Great Lakes Commission

734-971-9135 or dettling@glc.org