Jan 26, 2011

Posted by admin in Endangered Animals, Green Leaders | 0 Comments

Most of the country’s mercury pollution comes from handful of power plants

The trail of mercury poisoning begins with contaminated river fish and then spreads to other animals.A new report released this week by Environment America shows the vast majority of mercury poisoning in the U.S. can be traced to only a handful of power plants.

The study, entitled Dirty Energy's Assault on our Health: Mercury, culls data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and shows that 35 percent of all mercury pollution from U.S. power plants comes from four states: Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

In 2009, the 451 power plants throughout the U.S. released more than 134,000 pounds of mercury into the air and water. What's more, 28 percent of the total pollution came from 25 different power plants – a statistic that has prompted many environmental activists to seek regulatory assistance from the EPA.

This March, the EPA will propose a standard to limit mercury output and other toxic pollutants from the nation's power plants, with finalization expected in November.

"Our dependence on oil and coal-fired power plants has broad detrimental impacts on our health and our environment," the report reads. "Power plants represent America's single biggest source of air pollution, affecting our waterways, destroying ecosystems and polluting the air we breathe."

The report also lists the country's worst polluting plants. The top three include Martin Lake Steam Electric Station & Lighting Mine in Tatum, Texas; RRI Energy Keystone Power Plant in Shelocta, Pennsylvania, and American Electric Power Gaven Plant in Cheshire, Ohio.

One in six women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her bloodstream to significantly harm her child's health, should she give birth, causing learning disabilities, developmental disorders and lower IQs, the study added.

Mercury is most dangerous when it enters waterways, as it eventually builds up in fish and is ultimately transmitted to animals that eat them, including humans.

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