Updated Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Will Improve Health, Especially for Babies, Kids and Communities Living Near Plants

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced updated Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants (formally known as updated National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Coal- and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units Review of the Residual Risk and Technology Review). EPA also announced additional final rules today to clean up other emissions from the power sector. In response to the final updated Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, the American Lung Association’s President and CEO Harold Wimmer issued the following statement:
“The new, stronger Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will save lives and prevent lifelong harm. EPA already has a track record of success in cleaning up mercury and other dangerous emissions from coal-fired power plants. Now, these updated standards will build on that success by reducing these emissions even further.

“These final protections are popular and bipartisan. A recent Lung Association poll found that 82% of voters support setting stricter limits on mercury and other toxic air emissions from power plants. This includes majority support across party and ideological lines. 

“Thanks to Clean Air Act protections, the power sector emits dramatically less mercury than in the past, but harm from mercury exposure still remains. Mercury is a potent bioaccumulating neurotoxin that can cause severe developmental harm. In addition, other hazardous pollutants released alongside mercury at power plants threaten the health of everyone living nearby. This new final rule to further cut mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants will work alongside additional EPA actions to deliver dramatic health benefits – particularly for our youngest and most vulnerable.  

“Burning coal and oil produces a long list of additional dangerous air pollutants, including carcinogenic metals as well as other emissions that react to form particulate matter. Exposure to fine particulate matter causes a host of harms to the lungs, including asthma attacks, airway inflammation and premature death, as well as cardiovascular, developmental and reproductive harm. The new standards will reduce these dangerous emissions by tightening emissions standards for non-mercury metals, improving health in communities near polluting plants. The rule also requires some of the dirtiest plants to meet the same emissions standards as other types of coal plants.

“EPA’s final rule notably includes requirements for continuous monitoring of emissions. This commonsense, cost-effective change will ensure greater protection for nearby communities by assuring compliance with the pollution limits. 

“Today is a good day for public health, particularly kids’ health. We thank President Biden and EPA Administrator Regan for their leadership and work to get both the stronger Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the carbon pollution standards across the finish line.”

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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