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Other Air Quality Programs

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Particulate Matter—The Next Challenge

Canada and the United States are cooperating to achieve progress on other air quality issues, including PM. The two nations are developing a plan to identify transboundary contributions of PM and to issue a report based on their findings. This information will allow the nations to decide if a PM Annex should be added to the Air Quality Agreement.

Canada and the United States are also undertaking domestic programs to address PM. Canada’s Clean Air Agenda aims to improve Canada’s air quality and reduce negative impacts on human health and the environment. Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the federal government added PM10 to its list of toxic substances and is undertaking efforts to deal with the precursors of PM and ozone. All provinces and territories are undertaking additional air quality initiatives.

The United States is currently working to address health concerns and visibility problems associated with PM. In 1997, EPA revised the NAAQS for PM to provide adequate protection from fine particles. EPA is currently conducting a subsequent review of these standards, which is targeted for completion in 2005.

Legislation has been proposed in the United States to address multiple pollutant (SO2, NOx, and mercury) emissions from power plants. EPA believes this legislation will efficiently and reliably address interstate transport of PM. If this legislation does not pass, a regulation on interstate transport of PM and its precursors is also under consideration.

Since PM is one of the primary sources of regional haze (and the resulting problem of reduced visibility), the United States has strengthened its visibility protection requirements for Class I areas by establishing regional haze regulations. These regulations require states and tribes to establish visibility improvement goals and develop regional haze plans. Regional planning organizations are also working with states and tribes to reduce emissions of PM and other pollutants that cause regional haze.

Cooperation among the States and Provinces

Image:  Photo of a treeline and clear skyIn a spirit of bilateral cooperation, some Canadian provinces and U.S. states have established partnerships and developed initiatives that focus on transboundary air quality issues.

To increase its outreach efforts and better inform the public about transboundary air pollution, the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP) is developing a communications plan aimed at gauging public understanding and attitudes toward acid rain and mercury. The NEG/ECP is conducting the Forest Mapping Project to identify forest regions most sensitive to acid deposition by mapping sulfur and nitrogen deposition data. NEG/ECP is undertaking ozone and PM mapping and conducting public health outreach.

Georgia Basin/Puget Sound
More than six million people live in the Georgia Basin region of southwestern British Columbia and the Puget Sound region of northwestern Washington state. Due to concerns of continuing rapid growth in these regions, Environment Canada and EPA initiated a collaborative process to develop a Georgia Basin/Puget Sound International Airshed Strategy, which will combine early action, airshed characterization, and strategic planning to address high-priority air quality issues and challenges in these regions.


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