Since mercury causes brain damage, why let it back 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 developing fetuses and cause other serious health problems.

“Power plants have already installed cost-effective pollution controls,” said Mandy Warner, EDF’s senior manager of climate and air policy, “but in April of 2020, opponents launched an effort to gut our protections against mercury and other toxic pollution. This puts our health and lives at risk.”

The existing mercury rule prevents up to 11,000 premature deaths each year, so it's vital to keep the rule in place.

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. We don't need more of these toxics back in our lives:

  • Mercury causes brain damage in babies.
  • 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.

How can we fix it?

The power industry is already in compliance with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, having reduced mercury pollution from power plants by more than 80 percent since 2011.

Fortunately, many forces — including labor leaders, members of Congress from both parties, EDF and the power industry itself — have asked the Environmental Protection Agency not to roll back the mercury rule.

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