U.S. and Canada to Cut Cross-Border Air Pollution
Canada’s Environment Minister John Baird and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson have announced that the two neighbors will start negotiations for an annex to the U.S.-Canada Air Quality Agreement aimed at reducing the cross-border flow of air pollution and its impact on the health and ecosystems of Canadians and Americans.
The U.S.-Canada Air Quality Agreement, negotiated in 1991, marked a new era of cooperation on air quality. The Particulate Matter Annex would complement the annex negotiated in 2000 addressing ground-level ozone, as well as the original annexes on acid rain and scientific cooperation.
Particulate matter consists of airborne particles in solid or liquid form. The pollutant can be emitted directly at the emissions source, for example, from a smokestack of an electrical power plant or as the result of reactions between chemicals (precursors) as they are transported through the atmosphere.
Numerous studies have linked particulate matter, especially fine particles, to cardiac and respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema and to various forms of heart disease.
Recent scientific analysis has shown that joint strategies are needed to address these pollutants. This research, conducted over the last three years, has shown that emissions of particulate matter and its precursors can significantly affect air quality in both countries.
The annex will result in reductions in particulate matter as well as many of the chemicals that contribute to other air quality issues of concern such as acid rain, regional haze, and visibility in the communities along the U.S.-Canada border.