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Great Lakes Commission adopts a resolution that addresses “chemicals of emerging concern”

At its recent annual meeting in Duluth, the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) adopted a resolution that urges action related to chemicals of emerging concern (CECs). The resolution defines CECs as “a wide variety of compounds that are present in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence river basin that are not widely or consistently regulated,” and highlights polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), pharmaceuticals, 1,4-Dioxane, and microplastics as examples.

The resolution acknowledges that research is underway in the region to better understand and address the impacts of some individual CECs, but notes that a more holistic evaluation of CECs and their cumulative risks to the Great Lakes economy and environment is needed. The resolution promotes “precautionary steps to impede [the] further introduction, spread, and accumulation” of CECs; recommends that pharmaceuticals, 1,4-dioxane, and microplastics be included as CMCs under Annex 3; and encourages agencies and researchers to critique existing programs and identify policies and technologies that would encourage the use of safer alternatives.

In comments on the draft resolution, CGLI encouraged the GLC to rely on national chemical management programs and Annex 3 for Great Lakes chemical management. CGLI believes that management actions specific to the Great Lakes region should be taken only when national programs such as the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act and the Canadian Chemical Management Plan are insufficient to control unacceptable risk to public health or the Great Lakes ecosystem. More information about CGLI’s chemical management work is available here.