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New mercury rules help lower pollution, save lives

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Mercury Rules Help Lower Pollution, Save Lives

WASHINGTON, DC – New rules announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that aim to reduce levels of mercury can help save tens of thousands of lives and strengthen the Clean Air Act.
Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, praised the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which will limit mercury and other toxic contamination in food, air, and other environmental sources to better protect public health.
“The health risks that mercury exposure poses are serious, especially since those most at risk are children and other vulnerable populations,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union. “Mercury from large industrial sources contaminates the air we breathe and common foods that many Americans eat. Regulating mercury emissions is just a common sense way to protect consumers from these health hazards and today’s announcement is a critical step towards that goal.”
In 2000, the National Academy of Science and the National Research Council estimated that each year over 60,000 children are born each year at risk for adverse neurological effects due to in utero exposure to methylmercury. Children’s developing bodies and brains are particularly susceptible to mercury and other toxic contamination. Adult exposure to methylmercury can also have potential health risks, including effects on the nervous, immune and reproductive systems and motor functions. Additionally, toxic emissions while airborne cause or worsen asthma and other lung conditions.
Recent analyses also confirm that the regulations announced today will remove dangerous pollutants from the air without threatening the reliability of America’s electric grid.
“The health benefits of this rule are clear, and today’s announcement follows the example set by the Clean Air Act by protecting public health in a cost effective manner,” said Baker-Branstetter.

Contact: David Butler or Kara Kelber, 202-462-6262