Americans have one day left to tell the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to preserve life-saving pollution standards.
Last year, the Trump administration proposed a plan to move forward with dismantling safeguards on dangerous mercury and toxic pollution from power plants. Doing so would boost levels of mercury, soot and other hazardous pollution into our nation’s air, water, food and communities. These standards — the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) — were developed in consultation with medical and public health experts in order to keep Americans healthy and safe.
As a doctor in Pennsylvania, I have seen just how important these standards are. Children are especially vulnerable to mercury’s harmful effects on the brain before birth and during early childhood. Coal-related mercury pollution has so contaminated Pennsylvania’s landscape that the state’s Fish and Boat Commission has advised pregnant women to limit local fish consumption to one meal per week.
The technology that reduces mercury and hazardous air pollution also cuts pollution from other microscopic soot particles (particulate matter) and lung-tissue-burning ozone. Known as a “co-benefit” to the MATS, this is where these standards save the most lives. Our medical literature is replete with studies showing that cutting these pollutants prevents death, disability, and hospital visits that result from lung disease, asthma, heart attack, stroke and even diabetes.
These standards are working as intended, keeping families healthy and safe. Before these standards were put in place, mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants was completely unlimited, and accounted for 48 percent of all human-caused mercury pollution, according to a report by Columbia University.
Overall, the EPA’s own scientists calculated that nationwide, the MATS is preventing up to 11,000 premature deaths, nearly 5,000 heart attacks,…