Toxic Mercury: It’s What’s for Dinner

Air Pollution

Mercury and other dangerous air pollutants have long been connected to extreme health problems such as brain damage, learning disabilities, birth defects, heart disease, cancer and even premature death.

As many as 1 in 6 American women of childbearing age have enough mercury in their bodies to put a baby at risk for mercury poisoning.

You may wonder, how can this be so?

We’ve known for decades that mercury is devastating to our health. However, coal plants spew mercury and other toxics (like arsenic) from their smokestacks every day and this is putting us all at risk—not only are the pollutants affecting our air quality, but mercury from these plants accumulates in local waterways and poses a direct risk to people when they eat contaminated fish.

We finally have a chance to end the cycle.

Today the Environmental Protection Agency announced the proposed rule on Mercury & Air Toxics Standards which is aimed at protecting public health.

The new rules will:

  • Cut harmful emissions of mercury as well as arsenic, chromium, nickel, and acid gases
  • Prevent as many as 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks a year
  • Benefit children’s health by preventing 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children each year
  • Avoid more than 12,000 emergency room and hospital visits and 850,000 missed work days due to illness

Our nation’s biggest polluters want to block these standards, but if enacted, the EPA’s safeguards could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year!

It has never been more important to make our voices heard. The EPA needs to hear from all of us telling them that we support life-saving protections that can keep mercury pollution out of our communities.

Here are all the ways to take action and tell the EPA to enact strong air toxics standards:

  1. E-mail: Comments may be sent by electronic mail (e-mail) to, Attention Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR- 2009-0234.
  2. website ( Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  3. EPA Air and Radiation Docket Web Site ( Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  4. Fax: Fax your comments to: (202) 566-9744, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0234 .
  5. Mail: Send your comments to: EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0234. Please include a total of two copies. In addition, please mail a copy of your comments on the information collection provisions to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB, Attn: Desk Officer for EPA, 725 17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20503.
  6. Hand Delivery or Courier: Deliver your comments to: EPA Docket Center, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460. (Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket’s normal hours of operation (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holiday), and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.)
  7. Through this online Action Alert.

The EPA needs to hear from all of us telling them that we support life saving protections that can keep mercury pollution out of our communities.