The Water Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System, also known as the Great Lake Initiative or GLI (40 CFR 132), created a few new types of water quality standards intended to be applied to waters in the Great Lakes basin.

A Great Lakes Water Quality Wildlife Criterion (GLWC) is intended to protect avian (bird) and mammalian wildlife populations in the Great Lakes basin from adverse effects resulting from the ingestion of water and aquatic prey taken from surface waters of the Great Lakes. These criteria are based on existing toxicological studies  and information about the exposure of wildlife species to the substance (i.e., food and water consumption rates).

Since toxicological and exposure data for individual wildlife species are very limited, a GLWC was calculated using a similar methodology to that used to derive noncancer human health criteria. Separate avian and mammalian values are developed using toxicity and exposure data for representative Great Lakes basin wildlife species.

Five wildlife species were selected to be representative of bird and animal species living in the Great Lakes basin which are likely to experience the highest exposures to bioaccumulative contaminants through the aquatic food web:

  • bald eagle,
  • herring gull,
  • belted kingfisher,
  • mink, and
  • river otter.
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