If you’re looking to contribute to important Great Lakes environmental policy development, the International Joint Commission (IJC) is still looking for public comment on its new Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in the Great Lakes report. The report was created to propose strategy for federal, provincial, and state governments to reduce harmful effects of PBDEs on the environment. Here’s a brief crash course on PBDEs.
What are PBDEs?: According to the IJC, PBDEs are often found in flame retardant commercial and consumer products, and have been widely-used since the 1970s. They’re found in electronic devices, plastics, mattresses, and carpets.
Why are they bad?: The IJC describes PBDEs as “persistent, toxic, and bioaccumulative and have been detected in the environment and a variety of species worldwide.”
How do they affect the environment?: With exposure to PBDEs, wildlife have experienced increased mortality rates, malformations, and thyroid system and metabolic impairment. Though Canada and the U.S. have introduced measures to reduce their presence in the environment, PBDEs are still present in all of the Great Lakes.
What is the government doing about it?: In May 2016, the Canadian and U.S. federal governments declared PBDEs a ‘chemical of mutual concern’ under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The IJC produced the PBDE report to help inform further action on both sides of the border to manage PBDE damage.
Very briefly, the PBDE report proposes that the governments do the following:
- Implement restrictions on the manufacture, use and sale of PBDEs and products containing them.
- Eliminate potential releases of PBDEs during product recycling and disposal.
- Provide guidance to industry, municipalities and the public on the recycling and disposal of products containing PBDEs.
- Implement Extended Producer Responsibility programs requiring industry to be responsible to ensure proper recycling and disposal of products containing PBDEs.
- Require industry to obtain prior government approval for PBDE substitutions.
- Establish a registry identifying products containing PBDEs.
- Ensure ongoing research and monitoring of PBDEs in the environment.
They’re asking for the public’s help before submitting a finalized report. With public feedback, the IJC can determine if there are any loopholes or overlooked points in their strategy.
You can help the IJC revise and proof their PBDE strategy by reading the PBDE report and addressing these questions:
- Is the problem accurately characterized?
- Are the recommendations sound?
- Are any important considerations overlooked?
Last day for comment is August 5th, 2016 – so don’t delay, if you want to contribute. You can contact the IJC with your feedback online (scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘submit a comment’ button or email your comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.