Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

For Immediate Release
November 7, 2011

Contact: Sean Sarah, sean.sarah@sierraclub.org202 548-4589

Sierra Club Highlights Dangers of Mercury in DC Metro Ad Buy
Focuses on Effects on Pregnant Women and Babies

Washington, DC – Today, the Sierra Club launched an advertising campaign on the DC Metro system focused on the need to protect families from toxic mercury pollution. The advertisements show images of pregnant women’s bellies and point out the dangerous levels of mercury pollution that affect over 300,000 newborn babies each year.

The Obama Administration is expected to issue the first-ever federal protections from mercury, which would reduce mercury pollution by 90 percent - these new ads let the Administration know that families are counting on them to act soon. The campaign will be featured in 160 metro cars taking up half of the ad space in the metro car system.

Approximately 48 tons of toxic mercury are pumped into our air each year from coal-fired power plants, which are the largest domestic source of federally unregulated mercury pollution in the United States. There are currently no national limits to how much toxic mercury pollution a coal plant can pump into the air.

We all teach our children the simple rule that if you make a mess, you should clean it up – Polluters should have to follow the same rules,” said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Beyond Coal Campaign. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans spoke up in support of strong mercury safeguards this year, it’s time the administration takes action to protect pregnant women and children.”

At least 1 in 12, and as many as 1 in 6, American women have enough mercury in their bodies to put a baby at risk. That means that each year more than 300,000 babies are born at risk of mercury poisoning. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can damage the brain and the nervous system, and is especially dangerous for pregnant women and young children, as the toxin can cause developmental problems, learning disabilities, and delayed onset of walking and talking.

In the coming months the Obama Administration will make a decision on critical mercury protections and the public is counting on them to do the right thing,” added Mary Anne Hitt. “Once finalized, these mercury safeguards would clean up mercury pollution by 90 percent, protect public health, save lives, prevent disease and hospitalizations all while creating new jobs at a time when we need them most.”