May 26, 2011
Contact: Sean Sarah, Sierra Club, (330) 338–3740
Residents Flood EPA Hearings, Demand Safeguards from Coal Pollution
Hundreds Testify about the Dangers of Toxic Mercury
As the Environmental Protection Agency held hearings on mercury safeguards, hundreds of Americans came together to ensure that the Agency understands that it must adopt strong safeguards against mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. At hearings on Tuesday in Chicago and Philadelphia and today in Atlanta, concerned residents gathered to let the EPA know that coal is making them sick.
"Americans sent a clear message to the EPA this week. Coal is making us sick. Illnesses caused by coal plants can be prevented by keeping toxic chemicals out of our air and water. We know how to prevent thousands of cases of birth defects, asthma attacks, and heart disease. We owe it to our kids to cut coal pollution and clean up our air," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
Toxic mercury is especially dangerous to the health of young women, children and developing fetuses. Even small amounts of mercury exposure have been linked to developmental disorders and learning disabilities. According to the EPA, at least 1 in 12 – and as many as 1 in 6 – American women of childbearing age have enough mercury in their bodies to put their baby at risk.
On March 16, the EPA proposed a strong air quality standard to protect Americans against life-threatening air pollution such as mercury, arsenic and other air toxics from power plants, which are currently allowed to emit this hazardous pollution without national limits. Dirty coal-fired power plants are the number one source of mercury pollution in the United States, emitting more than 130,000 pounds of toxic mercury pollution in the year 2009 alone, according to Environment America.
For more information visit www.sierraclub.org/mercury