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Background Information

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

On November 16, 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Agency-wide Multimedia Strategy for Priority Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) Pollutants (PBT Strategy).

The goal of the PBT Strategy is to identify and reduce risks to human health and the environment from current and future exposure to priority PBT pollutants. To attain this goal, EPA has identified several guiding principles:

The PBT Strategy outlines an approach to achieving PBT risk reductions which includes the development and implementation of national action plans for priority PBT pollutants. These action plans will draw upon the full array of EPA’s statutory authorities and national programs, building on work initiated under the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy and using regulatory action where voluntary efforts are insufficient. The action plans will consider enforcement and compliance, international coordination, place-based remediation of existing PBT contamination, research, technology development and monitoring, community and sector-based projects, the use of outreach and public advisories, and opportunities to integrate efforts across chemicals.

The Persistent, Bioacculumative and Toxics (PBT) Program is a main focus of the EPA's MultiMedia and Pollution Prevention (M2P2) Forum, composed of senior EPA management officials.

The first 12 PBTs were identified from the 12 level 1 substances from the U.S. Binational Toxics Strategy (BNS): aldrin/dieldrin, benzo(a)pyrene, chlordane, DDT and its metabolites, hexachlorobenzene, alkyl-lead, mercury and its compounds, mirex, octachlorostyrene, PCBs, dioxins and furans, and toxaphene. Many of these were used as pesticides and have already been banned. However some, such as mercury, are still in use today.


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