An air pollution rule that saves thousands of lives

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are already cleaning the air

Families and clean air advocates helped us secure standards that reduce mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants.


Few federal standards have the power to save lives like the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

Once fully implemented, these standards will remove substantial amounts of the toxic mercury from coal-burning power plants that ends up in our our air, water and food — along with limiting arsenic, chromium, nickel and toxic acids.

The standards were completed by the Obama administration in 2011, but have been met with considerable opposition from industry lobbyists, leading to prolonged legal battles. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Already experiencing benefits

In spite of this back and forth, there is already good news: Most power plants in the U.S. are already on track to comply with these life-saving standards, as compliance is required by the time the standards go into effect.

"We're already experiencing health benefits driven by the rule, with more to come," said Pamela Campos, EDF attorney. "It brings the power sector into line with air toxics emissions already achieved for many other sectors."

What's at stake? Our health

Simply put, this rule saves lives.

Healthier kids: Elevated blood levels of mercury can damage developing brains. The new MATS standards will eliminate 90% of mercury emitted from coal-fired power plants.

Fewer premature deaths: The emission reductions in this rule will result in up to 11,000 fewer premature deaths each year.

Lower rates of chronic disease: The new rule will prevent thousands of heart attacks, bronchitis cases, and asthma attacks.

Saves money: projected 540,000 fewer missed work or "sick days" and less frequent trips to emergency rooms will save as much as $90 billion a year.

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EDF has been fighting for these crucial health protections for years.

Vickie Patton Vickie Patton EDF General Counsel

Media contact

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