CLEVELAND -- Ohio's power plants emit more mercury pollution than power plants in 48 other states.
That's according to new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data outlined in Environment Ohio's latest report, Ohio's Biggest Mercury Polluters: How Cleaning Up Power Plants in the State and Across the Nation Will Protect Our Health.
Additionally, 8 of the top 100 most polluting power plants for mercury are in Ohio. The report found that in total, power plants in Ohio emitted 4,218 pounds of mercury pollution in 2010.
The top 10 states are: Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, West Virginia, North Dakota, Kentucky and Michigan.
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.
Mercury pollution in Great Lakes forgotten but not gone
"Parents in Ohio shouldn't have to worry that their children's bodies are toxic dumping grounds," said Paul Rolfe, 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."
Toxics Release Inventory program
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, joined Environment Ohio in releasing today's report.
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.
"The proposed mercury and toxic pollution emission standards are a clear, common-sense step that will improve public health," said Lindell. "EPA should follow through and finalize this action as soon as possible."
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 has 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.
In 1984, a deadly cloud of methyl isocyanate killed thousands of people in Bhopal, India. Shortly thereafter, there was a serious chemical release at a sister plant in West Virginia.
These incidents underscored demands by industrial workers and communities in several states for information on hazardous materials. Public interest and environmental organizations around the country accelerated demands for information on toxic chemicals being released "beyond the fence line" -- outside of the facility.
Against this background, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was enacted in 1986. One of EPCRA's primary purposes is to inform citizens of toxic chemical releases in their areas. EPCRA Section 313 requires EPA and the States to collect data annually on releases and transfers of certain toxic chemicals from industrial facilities and make the data available to the public through the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).
In 1990 Congress passed the Pollution Prevention Act which requires facilities to report additional data on waste management and source reduction activities to EPA under TRI.
The goal of the Toxics Release Inventory Program is to provide communities with information about toxic chemical releases and waste management activities and to support informed decision making at all levels by industry, government, non-governmental organizations, and the public.
The Toxics Release Inventory Program compiles the TRI data submitted by regulated facilities each year and makes the data available through the TRI Data Files and Tools webpage.