Since mercury causes brain damage, why let it into our air and water?

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards limit your exposure to some of the most dangerous types of air pollution from coal plants. These chemicals can damage the brains and nervous systems of young children and cause other serious health problems.

Since 2012, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards have slashed pollution by as much as eighty percent and have done it at a fraction of the expected cost. Recent studies prove that reducing toxic pollution has provided greater health benefits than anticipated, for less money. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are expected to prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year.

How do these toxics harm human health?

Before the mercury rule went into effect, coal plants were the leading source of mercury and 84 other hazardous pollutants:

  • Mercury causes brain damage in babies babies and is associated with heart disease.
  • Arsenic can cause cancer.
  • Lead can damage developing nervous systems in children.
  • Chromium and nickel cause cancer.
  • Acid gases cause serious lung disease.

Mercury in particular cycles through the environment, passing between air, land and water. It also accumulates — often to unsafe levels — in fish, making it difficult even to know which fish are safest to eat.

Where are we now?

EPA has a clear authority and responsibility to protect Americans from mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants. On January 31, 2022 EPA issued a proposed rule to do just that, and is now taking public comments.

EDF strongly supports rigorous Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to protect our children and communities from toxic pollution.

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