Public health experts back standards for coal-burning plants
The American Public Health Association is endorsing the new standards released recently by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would strengthen safeguards against toxic pollutants, including mercury, emitted from coal-burning power plants for the first time.
The rules would reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent and curb other harmful toxics emitted by coal-burning power plants, the largest source of air pollution for mercury and acid gases. The EPA estimates the new standards would prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, 2,800 cases of chronic bronchitis and up to 2,600 hospital admissions by 2016.
“The dangerous health risks associated with coal-burning power plants is no longer an elusive, distant threat. Exposure to air pollution and toxic chemicals can cause asthma and heart attacks, harm those suffering from respiratory illness and in some cases lead to death,” said Alan Baker, interim executive director of APHA. “Implementing these critically needed standards could mean the difference between a chronic debilitating, expensive illness or healthy life for hundreds of thousands of American children and adults.”
Poor air quality disproportionately burdens minority, low-income and marginalized communities. The rules will go into effect immediately, and plants have three years to meet the requirements.
APHA will continue to work with Congress and the administration to ensure EPA maintains its authority under the Clean Air Act to fulfill its duties of safeguarding the public’s health from dangerous and deadly air pollution.