Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Great Lakes research, laws are shifting focus

Toledo Blade (Ohio): Though the Great Lakes have been the driving force behind many environmental laws since the early 1970s, they soon may undergo a moderate shift in how they're researched and regulated for future generations.

Some scientists who attended last week's International Association of Great Lakes Research conference at the University of Toledo said they're eager to move on to a new suite of chemicals and a broader array of studies about how the lakes can affect human health, both physically and psychologically.

UT President Lloyd Jacobs believes the lakes should not be viewed in narrow terms. He opened the conference by encouraging scientists to step back and "think also about the lakes as a spiritual resource." The reassessment comes as the United States and Canada prepare for a June 13 summit in the Niagara Falls area to mark the 100th anniversary of their 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty.

The two countries also are reconsidering the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement they signed in 1972 and last amended in 1987. Both agreements have been used as frameworks for mutually protecting the lakes. But neither addresses what scientists see as the region's most critical emerging issue: climate change.

"We consider climate change to be an enormous, emerging public health problem," said Howard Frumkin, one of the conference's two keynote speakers. Mr. Frumkin is director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Deadly heat waves, more air pollution, more infectious diseases, and more allergies are likely in the Great Lakes region as its climate warms….

North Shore Palisade Head area Lake Superior, Minnesota

No comments: