January 27, 2011

Whitehouse: Mercury Report Highlights Need for Action

Washington, DC – A startling study released today by Environment America reveals that mercury poisoning is a prevalent and increasing problem. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today released the following statement in reaction to the study:

“This study should set off warning bells across the United States,” said Whitehouse. “Not only is the health of every Rhode Islander threatened due to unrestricted mercury pollution in our atmosphere, but our vital fish populations are at risk. EPA’s plan to curb mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants this year is long overdue, and I will vigorously defend EPA’s right to protect public health.”

Environment America’s report entitled, ‘Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health: Mercury,’ reveals that much more must be done to protect public health, particularly children’s health. The report states that:

• Every state in this country has issued some form of fish advisory because of mercury pollution.

• 1 in 6 women of child-bearing age has enough mercury in her bloodstream to put an unborn child at risk of mercury poisoning.

• Coal-fired power plants send more mercury pollution out of their stacks each year than the next 10 biggest sources of mercury pollution combined. Power plants currently face no federal mercury standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of writing rules authorized by the Clean Air Act that would regulate the amount of mercury power plants are allowed to spew into the air. The EPA is under court order to finalize Clean Air Act rules to cut mercury and other toxic pollutants from power plants this year. These rules were originally scheduled to be finalized nearly a decade ago.

Mercury exposure can cause a number of serious health problems. Children who are exposed can experience impaired speech, memory, language, fine motor skills, and cognitive thinking. Adults are susceptible to nerve damage, muscle weakness, lack of coordination, and cognitive problems.

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