New Data Shows Ohio Power Plants Emit 2nd Most Mercury Pollution Nationally

For Immediate Release

Columbus, OH –  Ohio’s power plants emit more mercury pollution than power plants in 48 other states, according to brand new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data outlined in Environment Ohio’s latest report, Ohio’s Biggest Mercury Polluters. The report found that, in total, power plants in Ohio emitted 4,218 pounds of mercury pollution in 2010.  Environment Ohio’s report comes as EPA is set to finalize a standard to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants next month.

“Parents in Ohio shouldn’t have to worry that their children’s bodies are toxic dumping grounds,” said Matt Caffrey, Field Associate for Environment Ohio.  “The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward to protect our children’s health from toxic mercury pollution, and we can’t let big polluters stand in the way.”

The report uses just-released 2010 emissions data from EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, which uses self-reported data from power plants and other facilities to track how much of a variety of toxic substances the facilities release into the air.  Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury pollution in Ohio, with 2/3 of all airborne mercury pollution in Ohio coming from these power plants. They emit mercury into our air, which then falls into our waterways with rain or snow, where it builds up in fish and enters the food chain. Even a small drop of mercury is enough to make the fish in a 25-acre lake unsafe to eat.   

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that harms growing children and pollutes our environment.   Mercury exposure can lead to irreversible deficits in verbal skills, damage to attention and motor control, and reduced IQ. Mercury pollution is so widespread that new EPA estimates show one in ten women of childbearing age have enough mercury in her bloodstream to put her child at risk, should she become pregnant.

As a result of widespread mercury contamination, every state in the country has issued an advisory warning against the consumption of species of fish that tend to have dangerous levels of mercury. Every square inch of the Great Lakes is under a mercury advisory.

Environment Ohio’s report found that Ohio’s power plants emit more mercury pollution than power plants in 48 other states. In total, power plants in Ohio emitted 4,218 pounds of mercury pollution in 2010.

Jenny Linn and Claire Childers with Moms Clean Air Force and Deborah Lindell with the Nurses Environmental Action Team of Ohio joined Environment Ohio in releasing today’s report.

"Moms Clean Air Force is delighted to participate in the release of Environment Ohio's report," said Claire Childers of Moms Clean Air Force. "The health of Ohio's children is precious and it's time we fight back against polluters and clean up toxic mercury pollution from power plants. Moms Clean Air Force is working to educate mothers on what is happening in the fight for clean air and how we can protect Ohio's children from dangerous air pollution." 

“The proposed mercury and toxic pollution emission standards are a clear, common-sense step that will improve public health,” said Deborah Lindell, a speaker with the Nurses Environmental Action Team of Ohio and the Task Force of the American Nurses Association Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.  “EPA should follow through and finalize this action as soon as possible.”

The report comes as EPA is poised to finalize a landmark standard to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants in December. This will be the first time in history that EPA limits toxic mercury pollution from power plants, and once fully implemented, the new standard as proposed would reduce overall power plant emissions of mercury by more than 90 percent. But while EPA is in the process of issuing this final standard, Congress and industry lobbyists are working to keep EPA from doing its job by threatening to block this and other rules that limit dangerous air pollution. 

“EPA’s proposed mercury standard will protect children and families from a known poison,” said Caffrey. “Senators Brown and Portman should stand up for Ohio’s families by supporting EPA’s much-needed standard, and oppose efforts by polluters and their allies in Congress to delay or block EPA’s efforts.”

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Environment Ohio is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to protect the places we love and the environmental values we share. For more information visit www.environmentohio.org