EPA Report Eyes67 Air Pollutants
The Environmental Protection Agency has released a report evaluating toxic air emissions from electric power plants, concluding that mercury is the air toxic of greatest public health concern. One-third of all human-generated U.S. mercury emissions come from coal-fired plants. No mercury is emitted from gas or oil-fired plants. Although not conclusive, the report finds evidence suggesting a link between utility emissions and the methylmercury found in soil, water, air and fish from contaminated waters.
The report notes that there are no feasible technologies available to effectively reduce mercury from coal-fired facilities. The EPA is taking steps expected to reduce mercury emissions, including:
implementing tougher new air standards for smog and soot;
evaluating new or promising control technologies; and
seeking better emissions information from power plants, and developing a proposal to make the information available to citizens by lowering the threshold for mercury reporting in the agency`s right-to-know program.
The report also analyzes 66 other air pollutants from 684 power plants that are 25 MW or larger and burning coal, oil or gas.
The report notes potential health concerns about utility emissions of dioxin, arsenic, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride and nickel, although uncertainties exist about the health data and emissions for these pollutants.
The report, “Study of Hazardous Air Pollutant Emissions from Electric Utility Steam Generating Units–Final Report to Congress,” is available at www.gifpa.gov/airlinks. p