-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Newly proposed national
standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollutants from
power plants could prevent as many as 17,000 premature deaths and
11,000 heart attacks a year, according to the U.S. Environmental
The proposed standards, released Wednesday by the EPA in
response to a court deadline, could also prevent 120,000 cases of
childhood asthma symptoms and 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis
among children each year; avert more than 12,000 emergency room
visits and hospital admissions annually; and lead to 850,000 fewer
days of work missed due to health problems.
Under the proposal, many power plants would be required to
install proven pollution control technologies to reduce harmful
emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases, the
Public health advocacy groups, such as the Environmental Defense
Fund, back the proposed standards. "EPA is addressing the most
toxic contaminants that imperil the health of our most precious
resource, America's children," said EDF president Fred Krupp, in a
news release from the environmental organization. "Our nation's
commitment to cleaner air means healthier lives, safer communities
and a stronger economy."
Research has shown that toxic pollutants from coal- and
oil-fired power plants can cause neurological damage, including
lower IQ in children exposed to the pollutants while in the womb
and during early development. Emissions from power plants have also
been linked to cancer, heart disease, asthma, premature death and
work days lost to illness.
"The American Lung Association applauds the release of this sensible public health measure," Charles D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in an EPA news release. "When it becomes final, the cleanup rule that the EPA is putting forward today will save lives, protect the health of millions of Americans and finally bring about an action that is 20 years overdue. This must happen."
Under the 1990 Clean Air Act, the EPA was required to control
toxic air pollutants, including mercury, but the agency failed to
take action on power plant standards. In response to a February
2008 court ruling, the EPA entered into a consent decree that
required proposed national standards for power plants to be signed
by March 16, 2011, with a final rule required by November 2011.
The EPA will hold public hearings on the proposed standards.
The American Lung Association has more about
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