Protection from Chemicals in the Water We Drink

On May 31st, Canada and the United States designated the first set of Chemicals of Mutual Concern which are potentially harmful to human health or the environment, and are caused by anthropogenic sources - sources that were caused or influenced by humans.

Glasses of water30 million people get their drinking water from the Great Lakes. All levels of society need to work together to press for more progress on protecting the water from potentially harmful chemicals in the Lakes. While certainly a lot more needs to be done (micro plastics, pharmaceuticals etc.), bi-national agreement on a first set of chemicals in which to coordinate preventative and corrective actions is an achievement in the right direction.

Why were these identified?

These identifications are part of the requirements of the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality agreement (annexes) between the the United States and Canada. Both countries are then committed to follow-up action on these problem chemicals.
Read more about follow-up actions
Read more about The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the 2012 Annexes
    The 10 annexes from the 2012 Agreement
Find additional information on the focus of actions under this annex:This annex is implemented by a sub-committee co-led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Organizations represented include: Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Minnesota Department of Health, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

What are the first set of chemicals of mutual concern?

Many of these seem quite daunting to try to pronounce let alone understand what they are, and where they might commonly come from. Find below some key points from extensive reports put together by the Identification Task Teams of the Annex 3 Subcommittee working on compliance to the Great Lakes Quality Agreement.

Brominated Flame Retardants:
1. PBDEs and 2.HBCD
Perfluorinated Chemicals:
3. PFOS, 4. PFOA and 5. Long-Chain PFCAs
6. Mercury
7. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
8. Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs)

GBF works on Water Quality

Georgian Bay Forever is active on protecting water quality. We have worked with the Township of Georgian Bay on the first microbial assessment of water quality. We continue to work with the Georgian Bay Biosphere and other partners on establishing standard protocols for water quality monitoring. Also, we support research into investigating algal blooms. Learn more .

About Georgian Bay Forever:
Georgian Bay Forever is a charity that funds and supports scientific research and education that protects and enhances the waters of Georgian Bay, as part of the Great Lakes. Our vision is that Georgian Bay waters are healthy and thriving for future generations. Learn more about how you can support out work.

References used in this post:

Thank-you to all the sources and references in this post.

Note - I try to bring together information to help educate about the Great Lakes Water Quality agreement. I do use sources, in this case the actual words from government documents to provide information. I do my very best to attribute properly and try very hard to get it right. If I have made an inadvertent mistake around improperly recognizing someone’s work or misinterpreting the work, please let me know via email at communications and I will correct.

  • Canada and the United States Designate the First Set of Chemicals of Mutual Concern" Email from Grands Lacs/ Great Lakes (EC), May 31, 2016
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    7 Surfactants: the ubiquitous amphiphiles. Royal Society of Chemistry