Clean Air, Healthy Families
New clean air standards from the Environmental Protection Agency could cut emissions of dangerous air pollutants like smog, soot and mercury, saving tens of thousands of lives each year. The coal industry and their friends in Congress are trying to block these standards, so we’re urging the Obama administration and EPA to stand strong and move ahead with these commonsense standards to protect public health—and ensure that Congress doesn’t block this critical effort.
Air pollution threatens our health
Nearly half of all Americans live in places with unsafe levels of air pollution, which causes heart attacks, asthma attacks, emergency room visits, hospital admissions and even death.
On days with high levels of smog pollution, even healthy adults who try to exercise outdoors can experience a reduction in lung function of between 15 and 20 percent. And deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory causes increase on days when air pollution is at its worst.
Studies also show that one in ten women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her bloodstream to put her child at risk of health effects should she become pregnant. The consequences are serious: Children who are exposed to even low-dosage levels of mercury in the womb can have impaired brain functions, including verbal, attention, motor control, and language deficits, and lower IQs.
We need to clean up the largest polluters
The largest sources of these dangerous pollutants are well-known, and include power plants, industrial facilities, and cars and trucks. In fact, burning fossil fuels to power our transportation sector, generate electricity and power other industry produces roughly 90 percent of all U.S. emissions of nitrogen oxides—a key ingredient in smog pollution.
Coal-fired power plants alone spew tens of thousands of pounds of toxic mercury into our air every year, which falls to earth in the form of rain and contaminates rivers, lakes and streams. And it doesn’t take much mercury to have a big impact on our health. Scientists found that a single gram of mercury can contaminate an entire 20-acre lake.
With your help, we can save lives
Recently, the EPA moved ahead with efforts to significantly reduce soot and mercury pollution, and they’ll soon start developing critical standards for smog pollution. Combined, these standards will save tens of thousands of lives every year. Unfortunately, polluters and their allies in Congress have launched a coordinated attack to block these critical safeguards.
We’re working closely with our allies in the public health community, lobbying key senators, and rallying thousands of activists stand up for public health.
It won’t be easy, but if enough of us speak out, we can drown out the coal industry lobbyists and make sure that the EPA is allowed to do its job and protect public health.
- The American Lung Association estimates that 41 percent of all Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of either soot or smog pollution.
- Right now, mercury pollution puts 1 in 10 women of childbearing age at risk.
- Together with our allies, we delivered more than 800,000 comments to the EPA in support of a strong mercury standard, and we delivered more than 420,000 comments in support of a strong soot pollution standard.
- On December 14, 2012, the Obama administration responded to this show of support by finalizing strengthened standards for deadly soot pollution that were loudly applauded by the environmental and public health communities.