NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Epa Report on Mercury Pollution Due Soon

February 21, 2003

A report warning that emissions of mercury by coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources poses an increasing health danger to children will soon emerge from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Among pollutants the report studied, mercury is the only one for which levels are not dropping.

  • States are increasingly issuing warnings that dangerous mercury levels are building in fish.
  • The report says there is mounting evidence that mercury is collecting in the blood of women of child-bearing age.
  • There is also growing evidence, the report says, that high mercury doses cause mental retardation and other neurological disorders in infants.

Coal-fired power plants are the source of about one-third of mercury emissions. President Bush's proposed Clear Skies Act would require industry to cut mercury emissions in two steps -- by 50 percent by 2010, and by 70 percent by 2018.

But this will probably become a sensitive political issue, with utilities seeking a longer timeframe and environmentalists wanting more immediate action.

Source: John J. Fialka, "Mercury Threat to Children Rising, Says an Unreleased EPA Report," Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2003.


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