American Lung Association Urges EPA to Finalize Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants

Statement of the American Lung Association

Washington, D.C. (October 21, 2011)

The American Lung Association urges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take no more than 30 extra days to finalize the power plant Mercury and Air Toxic Standards.  EPA received nearly 1 million comments from people who took the time to express support of these lifesaving standards. An additional 30 days to respond to these comments and ensure that the health benefits are maximized is an appropriate step. There should not be any further delays.  Each month of delay in commencement of cleanup will result in significant health consequences including an estimated 1,400 premature deaths.

The cleanup of toxic air pollution from oil and coal-fired power plants is long overdue. When final, the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – required by the Clean Air Act – will protect Americans against life-threatening air pollution linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and even premature death.
 
More than 400 coal-fired power plants located in 46 states across the country release in excess of 386,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants into our air each year. The wide range of uncontrolled pollutants from these plants includes: arsenic; lead and other metals; mercury; dioxins; formaldehyde and benzene; and acid gases such as hydrogen chloride.

Congress first required EPA to clean up toxic air pollution from industries in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Ever since, coal-using electric utilities have successfully deployed a range of tactics to delay the regulations.  Those at high risk of health effects from breathing the hazardous power plant air pollutants include: infants, children and teenagers; older adults; pregnant women; people with asthma and other lung diseases; people with cardiovascular disease; diabetics; people with low incomes; and healthy adults who work or exercise outdoors. They are counting on and expecting EPA to do the job correctly. Congress required it and millions of Americans are counting on EPA to protect their health.

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About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases.  For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: www.Lung.org.