TransPac Air Pollution Report #20: Aljoya Consensus Statement Released

Date: 
17 October 2000

TRANS-PACIFIC AIR POLLUTION REPORT #20

ALJOYA CONSENSUS STATEMENT RELEASED

The Aljoya Consensus Statement from the First International Conference
on Trans-Pacific Transport of Atmospheric Contaminants, held at the
Aljoya Conference Center in Seattle, Washington, USA from 27-29 July
2000, was officially announced on Thursday, 5 October 2000 in a U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency press release. The Consensus Statement
is available at:

http://www.epa.gov/oia/iepi/transpac.htm

In addition, the Conference Summary is below.

Related to the conference, an article on trans-Pacific air pollution
will appear in the 6 October 2000 edition of Science magazine. The
Science article summarizes some of the research that brought
trans-Pacific air pollution to scientist's and other's attention. The
almost simultaneous publication of the Consensus Statement and Science
article was coincidence, but perhaps they will in combination help
further our efforts to promote international, interdisciplinary, and
inter-agency cooperative scientific research in the Pacific region. From
this research base we can together develop a common scientific
understanding of trans-Pacific air pollution and other environmental
areas of concern.

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CONFERENCE SUMMARY

Over 100 experts from the North Pacific region met in Seattle,
Washington, USA from 27-29 July 2000 for the First International
Conference on Trans-Pacific Transport of Atmospheric Contaminants.
Individuals from Canada, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the
United States attended. The objectives were to: 1) discuss the state of
science on long-range transport of atmospheric contaminants in the North
Pacific region, 2) identify research needs, and 3) promote a network of
individuals and organizations. The conference produced a Consensus
Statement.

Conference participants recognized that atmospheric transport into and
across the Pacific Ocean basin is one component of a larger global
atmospheric exchange of contaminants in which all countries participate
as both sources and receptors. Contaminants include gaseous species such
as ozone; aerosols such as sulfates; persistent organic pollutants
(POPs) such as DDT; heavy metals such as mercury; and radionuclides.

Conference participants recognized that there are significant
consequences to ecosystems and human health from air contaminants. While
the majority of air quality problems have local and regional causes,
long-range transport can exacerbate these problems by increasing
contaminant levels; for example, by elevating the background or by
loading during episodic events. This is incentive for all countries in
the Pacific region to increase their understanding of the complex
phenomena influencing long-range transport of contaminants.

Conference participants identified a number of concerns related to
long-range transport of contaminants in the Pacific region. These
include possible changes to the chemistry of the Pacific troposphere and
Pacific Ocean; increased toxicological risk to top predators, including
humans, from contaminant biomagnification in the foodweb; altered
radiative forcing with implications for global climate change;
degradation of air quality in some areas, including remote locations;
and detrimental impacts due to biomass burning events.

While Conference participants achieved consensus on many key areas, they
also recognized that there are important gaps and uncertainties in our
knowledge. They identified research needs related to three key
questions: 1) What are the contributions of anthropogenic emissions in
Asia, Europe, and North America to atmospheric contaminant
concentrations and deposition in the Pacific region and how will these
change in the future? 2) How do atmospheric concentrations and
deposition of contaminants affect terrestrial and marine ecosystems and
human health in the Pacific region? 3) How do atmospheric contaminants
in the Pacific region affect regional and global climate?

The conference concluded by calling for cooperative development of a
"Pacific Environmental Research Strategy" to promote a common scientific
understanding of long-range transport of atmospheric contaminants in the
Pacific region.