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News :: Civil & Human Rights : Environment

More Mercury Will be the Legacy of New Coal-Burning Plants

[permalink] From the Newswire: "[...] a recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that coal-burning power plants in the US are [...] the major source of domestic mercury contamination. The study found that 16 of the top 25 sources of mercury in the Great Lakes are coal-burning power plants, some of them from Nevada and Texas but most in Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan."

"Meanwhile mercury isnít the only concern raised by coal-burning plants. Numerous studies have now linked them to respiratory problems including asthma and emphysema. A 2001 study by the Harvard School of Public Health blamed two coal-burning plants in Chicago, the Fisk and Crawford plants run by the company Midwest Generation, for causing an estimated 41 premature deaths, 2,800 asthma attacks and 550 emergency room visits per year. Nationally, a study by the group National Campaign Against Dirty Power showed 24,000 lives are cut short by an average of 14 years because of respiratory and heart problems and cancer exacerbated or likely caused by coal-burning power plants.

Low-income and minority communities bear the brunt of these health effects, since the plants are normally located in or near lower-income areas. A 2002 study by the National Campaign Against Dirty Power found that 71 percent of African-Americans lived in counties that violated air pollution standards, compared to 58 percent of white Americans. African-Americans were also hospitalized for asthma attacks at three times the rate of white Americans. Reports by that group also found that seven of 10 Latinos in the U.S. are breathing air that violates federal standards, and 71 percent of Latinos live in counties that violate Clean Air Act standards." Read the full article

Additional Resources: National Campaign Against Dirty Power | PERRO (anti-pollution/ environmental racism group in Chicago) | Illinois PIRG | Clean Wisconsin | American Lung Association




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