PSR Testifies for Reducing Hazardous Air Pollutants
June 3, 2011
At recent hearings held by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
PSR health professionals spoke out in favor of strong, effective limits
on toxic air emissions from power plants.
to read three of those testimonies, supporting a proposed EPA rule that
would limit the emissions of mercury, arsenic, sulfur dioxide, acid
gases, and other air toxics spewed by oil- and coal-fired power plants. Click here to see a video of the PSR Iowa chapter testifying at the hearing in Chicago.
PSR representatives from the Chicago, Iowa, Philadelphia, and Baltimore/Chesapeake chapters, as well as the national staff, testified in support of the proposed EPA rule.
rule would result in dramatic reductions in deadly air pollution, capturing 91%
of the mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, 91% of
their acid gas emissions, and 53% of their sulfur dioxide emissions.
The public is invited
to submit comments to the EPA on this rule.
Click here to sign on to
PSR’s prepared comments and email them to the EPA.
Acutely and chronically toxic
known under the Clean Air Act as “hazardous air pollutants,” are a specified
list of almost 200 contaminants that are acutely and chronically toxic to
people, even in small amounts. Given how
dangerous these substances are, enactment of the rule would pave the way for
significant gains in public health.
- Mercury is a
very potent neurotoxicant, highly damaging to the nervous system, and
coal-fired power plants are a major source of mercury in the food chain. Mercury pollution falls out of smoke stack
pollution and makes its way into our waterways, polluting lakes, streams, and
fish. Eating mercury-contaminated fish
is a chief pathway to exposure.
Fetuses, infants and young children, whose brains
and central nervous systems are still developing, are particularly vulnerable
to mercury; exposure can result in developmental delays, reduced IQ, mental
retardation, and behavioral problems.
result, mercury pollution from power plants reduces our children’s ability to learn
and robs them – and our society – of their full mental and human potential.
- Acid gases like
hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride irritate
the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and breathing passages; damage our lungs; and contribute
to asthma, bronchitis and other chronic respiratory disease, especially in
children and the elderly.
Acid gases also contribute
to acid rain, harming forests and crops.
Volatile organic compounds like benzene, xylene, and
formaldehyde irritate the eyes, nose, and
throat, impair lung function, cause delayed response to visual stimulus and
memory loss, and can cause cancer. In
addition, VOCs contribute greatly to the formation of ground-level ozone, or
smog, which is a pollutant that causes asthma attacks, aggravates other chronic
lung diseases, and aggravates preexisting heart diseases like angina.
Particulate pollution, while not specifically
regulated by this rule, would be reduced as a beneficial side effect. Particulates contribute to premature death
and a wide range of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
More information is available in PSR’s new report on the Clean Air Act.
Affects huge numbers of people
of mercury, heavy metals and hazardous air pollutants take an extreme and
unacceptable toll on the American public, especially on vulnerable populations: children, the elderly, people with previously existing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions,
and people who eat
large amounts of fish from mercury-contaminated waters.
At the same time, air toxics can affect anyone. The soaring increase in asthma, which affects
people of all racial and ethnic groups and all income levels, illustrates that point.
PSR urges the EPA to
establish and enforce a strong mercury and air toxics rule. Add your name to PSR’s comments to the EPA today.