Law Reform: Toxics Free Great Lakes Binational Network

We’ve known for decades about impacts of toxic substances on fish, wildlife, and human health in the Great Lakes basin. Legacy chemicals like PCBs, mercury, dioxins and furans, are variously regulated by Canada and the U.S. Some progress has occurred with actions to limit or phase out some toxic substances and clean ups of some areas of severe contamination. However, the Great Lakes basin remains threatened by many chemicals of emerging concern including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), brominated flame retardants, other halogenated compounds, endocrine disrupting chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs, radionuclides, certain pesticides, and microplastics.

The Toxics-Free Great Lakes Binational Network advocates, and helps coordinate support, for binational actions on toxic substances. Working under the framework of Canadian and US commitments made in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) of 2012, the network focuses on this agreement’s guiding principles: zero discharge, virtual elimination, prevention, precautionary approaches, and polluter responsibility to make progress on toxic substances.

We advocate for stronger domestic policy and law to ensure action occurs by both governments to meet the GLWQA commitments to address toxic substances. We also engage the people and citizen-led organizations of the Great Lakes to achieve comprehensive, prevention-based approaches to address legacy chemicals and chemicals of emerging concern in the basin.