Tougher controls

Published: Saturday 31 August 1996

limiting the emission of toxins to 'safe' levels is not enough; what is required is a complete stop in the production of pollutants like dioxins, says the International Joint Commission appointed by the governments of us and Canada, to study the current state of the Great Lakes, which overlaps the borders of the two countries. It recommends that the two governments must pass stricter laws which would ban industries from continuing with the manufacture of these contaminants.

The commission, which released its biennial report last week, fears the threat from airborne pollutants and, thus, calls for the banning of such organic pollutants like dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls, which take a long time to break down into harmless chemicals.

Some 60 gm of dioxins enter the Great Lakes every year. Said John McDonald, a commission member, "Twenty-five years ago, the effects of pollution in the water were apparent to anybody who visited (the Lakes); now the effects are chronic, not acute, and subject to debate." There is evidence that these persistent chemicals enter the food chain and cause problems like the birth of smaller-sized children to mothers who ate large quantities of fish sourced from the Lakes.

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