Where there is smoke

Published: Monday 31 August 1998

THE Canadian government has admitted that it cannot stop transboundary pollu-tion on its own, but at least it can set an example for the biggest polluters. The government officials have agreed to a plan to reduce the amount of toxic mer-cury pumped out of the region's incin-erators and industries.

Studies have shown elevated levels of mercury in freshwater fish across the northeastern us and Canada. The gov-ernment has warned pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and chil-dren to limit consumption of fish caught in certain lakes.

There are also concerns about species such as the loon, which might disappear because of mercury poison-ing. Mercury is a metal that causes brain damage and reproductive problems. The metal is released into the atmos-phere when coal burns and through incinerators handling medical and toxic wastes.

The state governments in Canada have agreed to eliminate mercury pollution within their own regions, beginning with at least a 50-per cent reduction by the year 2003.

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