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Published: Friday, 6/8/2007

Great Lakes restoration effort receives mixed review

CHICAGO - Efforts to restore the Great Lakes got mixed reviews in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report released here yesterday.

The agency said in its biennial Great Lakes Highlights Report that there is less air pollution and a decline in the lakes' overall abundance of toxins. But smog remains a public health issue in several metropolitan areas, the agency said, and medical waste and harsh chemicals from fire retardants and personal health-care products are being detected more often.

Pollution remains high enough for advisories on fish consumption to remain in effect. Invasive species continue to threaten the biological food web of native fish. And more water is expected to be lost to evaporation as climate change continues to drive up temperatures and reduce winter ice cover, the report said.

But nearly three-quarters of the monitored U.S. and Canadian beaches were clean enough for swimming.

The report was released at the International Joint Commission's biennial meeting. The commission is a U.S.-Canada governmental agency that helps the two countries address boundary-water issues.

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