Residents of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida live in states with the most toxic air pollution, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The study was jointly released today by NRDC and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and found that:
- Nearly half of all the toxic air pollution reported from industrial sources in the United States comes from coal- and oil-fired power plants.
- Power plants are the single largest industrial source of toxic air pollution in 28 states and the District of Columbia.
"Power plants are the biggest industrial toxic air polluters in our country, putting children and families at risk by dumping deadly and dangerous poisons into the air we breathe," says Dan Lashof, Climate Center Director at NRDC. "Tougher standards are long overdue. Members of Congress who consider blocking toxic pollution safeguards should understand that this literally will cost American children and families their health and lives."
Despite the health benefits of reducing toxic pollution from power plants, some polluters and members of Congress are seeking to block EPA's efforts to update public health protections. Last week, two House Committees voted for amendments by Ed Whitfield (R-KY)/Mike Ross (D-AR) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) to block the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics standard.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton (R-MI) has vowed to block EPA's clean air safeguards. One of the nation's biggest polluters, American Electric Power (AEP) based in Columbus, Ohio has drafted legislation to block the EPA and has argued against EPA's current efforts.
The states on the "Toxic 20'' list (from worst to best) are:
8. West Virginia
10. North Carolina
11. South Carolina
19. New Hampshire
The EPA estimates that the reductions of toxic pollution required by the pending "Mercury and Air Toxics" standard would save as many as 17,000 lives every year by 2015 and prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms. The safeguards also would avoid more than 12,000 emergency room and hospital visits and prevent 850,000 lost work days every year.
"Coal pollution is killing Americans," says Lynn Ringenberg, MD, of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "Poisonous power threatens the health of our kids and families. As a pediatrician for over thirty years, I urge us absolutely to support the EPA's efforts to reduce the health threat from coal."