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, negotiation and implementation of international agreements and collaborative activities are 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 addressing stratospheric ozone layer depletion through the Montreal Protocol, controlling international movement of hazardous wastes through the Basel Convention, obtaining informed consent from receiving countries prior to export of hazardous chemicals through the Rotterdam Convention, reducing emissions of persistent organic pollutants via the Stockholm Convention, and addressing overarching chemicals issues through the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) framework. We are also working actively through partnerships to seek a global phase out of leaded gasoline, and reduce global releases of mercury to the environment.
We are addressing concerns over issues such as acid rain and emissions of particulate matter through agreements such as the US-Canada Air Quality Agreement and the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. A list of major activities the State Department is involved in follows, with a brief explanation of each and a link to a page which explains the activities in greater detail.
In 1985 the Vienna Convention established mechanisms for international co-operation in research into the ozone layer and the effects of ozone depleting substances (ODSs). 1985 also marked the first discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole.
International Chemicals Management
The following multilateral environmental agreements are concerned with many aspects of potentially hazardous chemicals to facilitate their safe handling, shipping across national borders, and their ultimate disposal.
Long-Range Atmospheric Transport
Chemicals are released into the environment intentionally, as in pesticide applications, and unintentionally as byproducts of industrialization. They occasionally become an international problem demanding multilateral solutions. The environmental fate of chemicals that become airborne may ignore international boundaries and become problems in locations very distant from their sources.
Mercury: Why is Mercury an Important International Issue?
-Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes
-Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals
-Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)
-U.S. Canada Air Quality Agreement (AQA)
-Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC)
-Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
-Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP)
-The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer