In 1999, the Lake Michigan Forum launched an initiative called Atmospheric Deposition of Toxics: Integrating Science and Policy. The intent of the project was to take stock of the research on atmospheric deposition of toxics in the Great Lakes and the implications of the research. Leading scientists were brought together with government policy experts, environmentalists, and industry representatives to discuss the research, the ability to respond with existing policy tools, and the overall issues that need to be considered in order to effectively address the difficult issue of atmospheric deposition of toxics.
Through the initiative's two workshops, it was apparent that current research confirmed the pervasive problem of atmospheric deposition but that there was little practical experience in using the scientific tools to craft solid policy strategies targeted to source areas and source sectors. The workshops made it clear that information on atmospheric deposition of toxics largely rests within the realm of universities and government research organizations and that the public and policy practitioners have less access to and understanding of the issue. The phenomenon of long-range transport of air toxics also highlighted the necessity for simultaneous local, regional, and national response strategies, and the need to increase involvement in international discussions on the use of toxics.
The workshops were not a consensus process and the information did not necessarily represent the positions or conclusions of individual participants. Instead it summarized the information that was presented at the workshops: outlining recent scientific research, U.S. federal and state programs and applicable international programs that address atmospheric deposition. Finally, the report presented recommendations drawn from the workshop discussions that together offer suggestions to further integrate science and policy, gain practical experience in using science tools, and increase international attention to the issue.