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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

International Chemicals, Waste, and Air Pollution Issues


The use and release of certain chemicals can be of serious concern if they have significant impacts on human health or the environment. Some chemicals and pollutants can cross national boundaries and move long distances through air and water. Because of this, international cooperation and collaboration, including negotiation and implementation of international agreements is essential to ensuring environmental protection in the United States.

The United States participates in a number of agreements and activities to protect human health and the environment, including the Montreal Protocol, which addresses stratospheric ozone layer depletion, the Minamata Convention, which will reduce global releases of mercury to the environment, the Basel Convention, which regulates international movement of hazardous wastes, the Rotterdam Convention, which requires informed consent from receiving countries prior to export of hazardous chemicals, the Stockholm Convention, which seeks to eliminate certain persistent organic pollutants, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) framework, which addresses overarching chemicals issues, and the U.S.-Canada Air Quality Agreement and the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, which address concerns over issues such as acid rain and emissions of particulate matter. We are also working actively through partnerships to seek a global phase-out of leaded gasoline, and reduce the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.


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