Poisoning the Great Lakes
Mercury Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants In the Great Lakes Region
Mercury emitted into the air from coal-fired power plants is by far the leading man-made source of mercury in the Great Lakes and the rivers and streams of the region. This new NRDC report analyzed pollution data to determine the top 25 mercury emitting power plants in the Great Lakes states, and the top three in each state. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued nationwide standards to limit airborne mercury emissions and other toxic air pollutants from coal-fired power plants by 2015. Currently, not all states require that pollution controls be installed, including the report's top three culprit's: Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The report also highlights how a significant fraction of mercury and other air toxics emitted by the worst plants can be removed by air pollution controls already or soon to be installed at many power plants. Other technology that would achieve an overall reduction in mercury of 90 percent or more is readily available.
In addition, the study lays out the myriad impacts mercury pollution has on humans (our health and livelihoods) as well as wildlife and ecosystems. In humans, it can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system. Young children and developing fetuses are most at risk from the effects of mercury, which can damage their brains. Economic threats are addressed as well. In 2006, more than 11 million people, including 2.5 million children, fished in the Great Lakes and inland water bodies in the region. Many people rely on the Great Lakes fish through employment in the fishing industry or subsistence fishing.
The report outlines how local wildlife is being negatively impacted by mercury that gets into their systems, including iconic waterfowl such as the common loon and the great snowy egret, river otters and minks. Mercury contamination is also affecting the viability of popular sport and commercial fish populations, such as walleye.
Related Swtichboard Posts
- Steady As She Goes: Lessons for the Clean Power Plan from the Supreme Court's Mercury and Healthcare Decisions
- posted by David Doniger, 7/6/15
- Developing a National Inventory of Mercury Production and Use - The Time Has Come
- posted by David Lennett, 6/23/15
- Time to Roll up our Sleeves and Tackle Toxic Mercury Use in Small-Scale Gold Mining
- posted by Susan Egan Keane, 3/16/15
- Waste Coal Burners, Pennsylvania Senators Attack Clean Air Health Protections
- posted by John Walke, 1/21/15
- Clean Power Plan Will Save Thousands of Lives Every Year
- posted by David Doniger, 10/2/14
last revised 6/6/2012
Get Updates and Alerts
- The Annual Republican Piñata, the Environmental Protection Agency Budget
- posted by Scott Slesinger, 1/11/16
- Defending Our Victories
- posted by Rhea Suh, 1/7/16
- Latino Leaders Stand Up for Clean Air
- posted by Analisa Freitas, 12/1/15
NRDC Gets Top Ratings from the Charity Watchdogs
- Charity Navigator awards NRDC its 4-star top rating.
- Worth magazine named NRDC one of America's 100 best charities.
- NRDC meets the highest standards of the Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau.