Historic ‘mercury and air toxics standards’ meet 20-year old requirement to cut dangerous smokestack emissions
Actions by the Environmental Protection Agency to set emission standards for power plants to reduce mercury and other toxic pollutants will result in healthier lakes, streams and fish.
EPA estimates that “the new safeguards will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year. The standards will also help America’s children grow up healthier – preventing 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 6,300 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year.”
Mercury and other power plant emissions damage our environment. These compounds pollute our nation’s lakes and streams poisoning fish and the people and animals that rely on them for food. Other power plant emissions such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) can react in the atmosphere to form a haze of fine particle pollution and smog that reduces visibility in our nation’s scenic vistas and treasured national parks, and damages sensitive natural ecosystems.
The final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) will significantly reduce power plant mercury emissions. The equipment used to comply with MATS will also reduce emissions of SO2 and directly emitted fine particle pollution.
Emissions of SO2 from power plants can react in the environment to form weak acids that fall to earth as rain, fog, snow, or dry particles. They can cause lakes and streams to become acidic and unsuitable for many fish, damage forests, and cause deterioration of cars, buildings, and historical monuments. Sulfur deposition may also increase the rate of mercury methylation and the impact of mercury poisoning on fish and wildlife.
Once mercury from the air reaches water, microorganisms can change it into methylmercury, a highly toxic form that builds up in fish. As larger fish eat many smaller fish, mercury concentrations increase in their body tissues. Mercury contamination affects populations of numerous fish species – trout, bass, salmon and others. Waterfowl and mammals that eat fish, including loons and otters, and songbirds, bats, and amphibians that feed on insects can be exposed to high levels of mercury. Birds and animals suffering from mercury exposure behave differently and have less reproductive success. Over time, these new emission standards will help reduce the levels of mercury in fish.
Sportsmen and women played a major role in calling for these changes in the way we treat the environment. Clean air and water are the basis for the quality of life we enjoy and strive to preserve for our descendants.
Thank you for your support.