Chemicals of Concern

The International Joint Commission (IJC) identified the “critical Great Lakes pollutants” to be polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT), dieldrin, toxaphene, mirex, methylmercury, benzo[a]pyrene (a member of a class of substances known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs], hexachlorobenzene (HCB), furans, dioxins, and alkylated lead.

These Persistent Toxic Substances (PTSs) are persistent materials, and many are lipophilic so that they bioaccumulate in biota and biomagnify at successive levels of the food web. The ATSDR Great Lakes Human Health Effects Research Program focused on these 11 critical pollutants.

Persistent Toxic Substances in the Great Lakes Basin:

Organochlorine compounds
Heavy Metals
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Benzo[a]pyrene
Page last reviewed: June 23, 2015 (archived document)