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Which two of the Great Lakes are the most polluted?
from Shelley in Ontario, Canada, Age 14

Lakes Erie and Ontario are sometimes considered to be the most polluted Great Lakes because they are by far the smallest of the lakes, have many people living around them, and are the last lakes in the system of basins. This means that they receive a portion of the contaminants from each of the other lakes. Phosphorous, bacterial contamination (by E. coli and others), and persistant organic pollutants (POPs) are particularly hazardous forms of water pollution in the Great Lakes as well as other water supplies around the world.

Each of the Lakes are polluted to some degree, which is why many agencies and organizations try to focus on cleaning up the most polluted areas first in an attempt to improve the overall quality of water in the Great Lakes. The United States and Canada use tools like Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) to clean up the worst of these areas, and then use Lakewide Management Plan (LaMPs) to help keep them clean.

Related references:
TEACH: Water Pollution in the Great Lakes
GLIN: Pollution Prevention in the Great Lakes
TEACH: Great Lakes Areas of Concern
EPA: Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs)

Thank you for your question!

Answered on June 25, 2001

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