Not enough, says water quality study

Ontario must keep a watchful eye on new chemicals that are turning up in its lakes, rivers and streams and do more to clean up its contaminated waters, a new government report warned yesterday.

Ontario must keep a watchful eye on new chemicals that are turning up in its lakes, rivers and streams and do more to clean up its contaminated waters, a new government report warned yesterday.

The study, which focused on water quality in the environment, said government efforts have help­ed to reduce pollution in some areas, such as Lake Simcoe, where phos­phorus levels have declin­ed.

“Things in some areas are getting better, but we need to do more,” said Wolfgang Sch­nei­der, a scientist with the Environment Ministry’s water monitoring branch.

The province must also remain vigilant in monitoring new chemicals used in consumer and building products, such as polybrominated diphenyl eth­ers or PBDEs, which have been found in “increasing concentrations in the environment,” the report noted.

In some cases, these so-called “emerging” contaminants — which include pharmaceutical drugs, flame retardants and other compounds that are found in furniture and electronics — are replacing traditional pollutants, Schneider said.

The contaminants seem to be leaking in from storm-water sewers and landfills, but more work must be done to figure out where they’re coming from, he said.

The study also found Hamilton Harbour on Lake Ontario and Toronto’s Don River are still contamination hot spots in the province, even though cleanup efforts are underway.

 
 
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