International Joint Commission (IJC)
More than a century of cooperation protecting shared waters

Annex 3 - Chemicals of Mutual Concern

A. Purpose

The purpose of this Annex is to contribute to the achievement of the General and Specific Objectives of this Agreement by protecting human health and the environment through cooperative and coordinated measures to reduce the anthropogenic release of chemicals of mutual concern into the Waters of the Great Lakes, recognizing:

  1. that chemicals of mutual concern released into the air, water, land, sediment, and biota should not result in impairment to the quality of the Waters of the Great Lakes;
     
  2. the need to manage chemicals of mutual concern including, asappropriate, by implementing measures to achieve virtual elimination and zero discharge of these chemicals;
     
  3. the importance of a life-cycle management approach to minimize risks and environmental impacts of chemicals of mutual concern and products containing chemicals of mutual concern;
     
  4. that the Public can contribute to achieving reductions of the environmental impact of chemicals of mutual concern and products containing chemicals of mutual concern by using safer and less harmful chemicals and adopting technologies that reduce or eliminate the uses and releases of chemicals of mutual concern;
     
  5. the susceptibility of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem to the negative impact of chemicals of mutual concern, due to the economic activity level and population density in the region, as well as the unique characteristics of the ecosystem;
     
  6. that knowledge and information concerning the use, creation and release of chemicals of mutual concern, and combinations thereof, are fundamental to the sound management of chemicals in the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem;
     
  7. that climate change may affect the use, release, transport, and fate of chemicals of mutual concern in the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem, thereby contributing to impacts on human health and the environment;
     
  8. that chemicals of mutual concern may be managed at the federal, state, provincial, tribal, and local levels through a combination of regulatory and non-regulatory programs; and
     
  9. that international efforts may contribute to reductions of releases of chemicals of mutual concern from out-of-basin sources that are deposited within the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.

B. Programs and Other Measures

The Parties shall identify chemicals of mutual concern that originate from anthropogenic sources. The Parties shall mutually determine those chemicals that are potentially harmful to human health or the environment by:

  1. establishing and implementing a process by which the Great Lakes Executive Committee may recommend chemicals of mutual concern to the Parties. The recommendation shall include a review of available scientific information supporting the recommendation; and
     
  2. considering recommendations of the Great Lakes Executive Committee and jointly designate chemicals as chemicals of mutual concern for the purposes of this Agreement.

The Parties, in cooperation and consultation with State and Provincial Governments, Tribal Governments, First Nations, Métis, Municipal Governments, watershed management agencies, other local public agencies, and the Public, shall target these chemicals of mutual concern for action by:

  1. preparing binational strategies for chemicals of mutual concern, which may include research, monitoring, surveillance and pollution prevention and control provisions;
     
  2. coordinating the development and application of domestic water quality standards, objectives, criteria, and guidelines among the Parties and other governmental entities, subject to relevant domestic law and regulation, by:

(a)  maintaining, periodically reviewing, and making publicly available current water quality standards, objectives, criteria and guidelines for chemicals of mutual concern;

(b)  aligning, where appropriate, domestic water quality standards, objectives, criteria and guidelines applicable to chemicals of mutual concern;

(c)  developing, where warranted, new domestic water quality standards, objectives, criteria and guidelines for chemicals of mutual concern; and

(d)  reviewing and addressing any exceedances of or non-compliance with domestic water quality standards, objectives, criteria, and guidelines for chemicals of mutual concern;

3. reducing the anthropogenic release of chemicals of mutual concern and products containing chemicals of
    mutual concern throughout their entire life-cycles;

4. promoting the use of safer chemical substances and the use of technologies that reduce or eliminate the
    use and release of chemicals of mutual concern;

5. continuing progress toward the sound management of chemicals of mutual concern using approaches that
    are accountable, adaptive, and science-based;

6. monitoring and evaluating the progress and effectiveness of pollution prevention and control measures for
    chemicals of mutual concern, and adapting management approaches as necessary; and

7. exchanging, on a regular basis, information on monitoring, surveillance, research, technology, and
    measures for managing chemicals of mutual concern.

C. Science

The Parties, in cooperation and consultation with State and Provincial Governments, Tribal Governments, First Nations, Métis, Municipal Governments, watershed management agencies, other local public agencies, and the Public, shall coordinate on science priorities, research, surveillance and monitoring activities, as appropriate, including:

  1. identifying and assessing the occurrence, sources, transport and impact of chemicals of mutual concern, including spatial and temporal trends in the atmosphere, in aquatic biota, wildlife, water, and sediments;
     
  2. identifying and assessing loadings of chemicals of mutual concern into the Waters of the Great Lakes from all sources including point sources, non-point sources, tributaries, and the atmosphere;
     
  3. evaluating the effects of chemicals of mutual concern, and combinations thereof, on human health and the ecosystem, including the development and use of reproductive, physiological and biochemical measures in wildlife, fish and humans as health effect indicators;
     
  4. maintaining biological and sediment banks to support retrospective analysis and to establish background levels for use in assessing future management actions;
     
  5. coordinating research, monitoring, and surveillance activities as a means to provide early warning for chemicals that could become chemicals of mutual concern;
     
  6. reviewing and prioritizing research, monitoring, and surveillance needs on an annual basis, taking into account progress made in implementing this Agreement, new developments in science, and other factors; and
     
  7. exploring research, monitoring, and surveillance opportunities related to management at source and treatment technologies under the respective jurisdictional authorities to address chemicals of mutual concern in wastewater effluent and residuals.

D. Reporting

The Parties shall report on progress toward implementation of this Annex every three years through the Progress Report of the Parties. The report shall include:

  1. an identification of chemicals of mutual concern; and
     
  2. the status of initiatives to develop binational strategies to address issues involving chemicals of mutual concern and the status of implementing binational strategies for chemicals of mutual concern.