WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protected public health today by issuing a new standard to cut mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants. The EPA estimates that each year the standard, commonly referred to as the “Mercury and Air Toxics Rule,” will reduce mercury from power plants by 91 percent, prevent 12,200 trips to the hospital, and save 17,000 lives once it is implemented.
“Powering our homes should not poison our kids,” said Shelley Vinyard, Toxics Advocate for Environment America. “After decades of dirty energy lobbyists getting their way, the EPA has finally issued a rule that is a major step toward clean air and healthy Americans. It’s about time dirty coal companies are required to clean up their act.”
The Mercury and Air Toxics Rule will significantly cut an array of toxic air pollutants like mercury, arsenic, lead, and acid gases—which are linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and even premature death. Exposure to mercury affects a child’s ability to walk, talk, read, write and learn. The EPA estimates that mercury pollution is so widespread that one in six women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her blood to put her baby at risk, should she become pregnant.
Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury pollution, arsenic and acid gases. The coal industry has successfully blocked the EPA from protecting public health by cutting mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants since 1990.
“Our air and our bodies are no place for toxic pollution,” said Vinyard. “While big polluters will undoubtedly work to roll back and weaken this essential public health safeguard, Environment America applauds the EPA for cleaning up toxic air pollution. We urge the EPA to stand its ground and set the strongest air toxics protections possible to defend public health and protect America’s children from toxic mercury.”