United States and Canada today marked the 20th anniversary of the U.S. - Canada Air Quality Agreement, an agreement that has significantly reduced acid rain and smog. Through this agreement, the United States and Canada have made great strides to reduce harmful air pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada have implemented this bilateral agreement in coordination with relevant agencies and ministries on behalf of the U.S. and Canadian governments.
The U.S.-Canada Air Quality Agreement provides an example of successful bilateral cooperation that has achieved tangible progress in improving the environment. Initiatives in both countries have contributed to particulate matter emission reductions of 34 percent in both countries. Particulate matter has been linked to respiratory illnesses such as chronic bronchitis and asthma, to cardiac illness, and to premature death. Over the last 20 years, emissions causing acid rain have been cut in half and emissions causing smog have been cut by one-third. These efforts have saved lives and protected American and Canadian families from asthma and other respiratory illness, and reduced smog levels in the air.
In the United States, national and regional programs have dramatically reduced emissions of pollutants that contribute to the formation of acid rain, smog, and fine particle pollution. As of 2010, the U.S. national Acid Rain Program has reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide by 67 percent from 1990 levels and power plant emissions of nitrogen oxides have decreased by over two-thirds from 1990 to 2010 under this and other regional programs. Reductions in fine particle levels resulting from the U.S. Acid Rain Program are estimated to yield significant human health benefits including 20,000-50,000 lives saved each year.
In Canada, emissions of the key pollutants that contribute to smog, acid rain and poor air quality have seen significant declines since 1990. Emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx) declined by 54%, due to reductions from base metal smelters. Since the addition of the Ozone Annex in 2000, Canada has reduced nitrogen oxides emissions by one third in the southern and central Ontario and southern Quebec transboundary regions.