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Public health groups support strong mercury rules for power plants

April 2nd, 2012

From Green Right Now Reports

The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has joined the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and other leading organizations to formally oppose S.J. Res. 37, a resolution by Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla) that employs the Congressional Review Act to reverse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants.

If enacted, S.J. Res. 37 would nullify the EPA’s life-saving standards and permanently block EPA from issuing any “substantially similar” mercury and air toxics protections in the future without express Congressional authorization.

ACOEM was one of more than a dozen health organizations that signed on to a letter sent to U.S. Senators urging a “no” vote on Sen. Inhofe’s resolution, which the letter said “would leave millions of Americans permanently at risk from toxic air pollution from power plants that directly threaten pulmonary, cardiovascular and neurological health and development.”

The letter notes that Sen. Inhofe’s legislation would overturn vital regulations that are needed to reduce toxic pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. EPA estimates provisions in the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants would save up to 11,000 lives each year, while preventing thousands of heart attacks, asthma attacks and hospital visits.

According to EPA, the standards that Sen. Inhofe’s bill seeks to nullify would eliminate more than 90 percent of mercury emissions from power plants – a significant step forward in protecting public health from the debilitating effects mercury can cause, especially in unborn children.

More than 75 percent of emissions of highly corrosive acid gas pollution (e.g., hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid) in the United States come from power plants. Acid gases can damage the skin, eyes, breathing passages and lungs, particularly in children who have narrower breathing passages, faster breathing rate and often spend more time outdoors than adults. In addition to mercury and acid gases, power plants emit over 80 other toxic substances, ranging from arsenic and beryllium to toxic metals such as lead, manganese and nickel.

“Seeking environmental protection is an important part of ACOEM’s overall advocacy agenda,” said ACOEM President T. Warner Hudson, MD, FACOEM, FACP. “We will continue to be a national voice to ensure the safety of those affected by industrial pollutants.”

Read the letter and view the organizations that signed it at www.acoem.org/Comments_PollutionProtections.aspx.



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