For Immediate Release
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Air quality standards for coal-burning power plants offer long-awaited protections to public health, says American Public Health Association

Washington, D.C., December 21, 2011 – The American Public Health Association applauds the new standards released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would strengthen safeguards against toxic pollutants, including mercury, emitted from coal-burning power plants for the first time.


The rules would reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent and curb other harmful toxics emitted by coal-burning power plants, the largest source of air pollution for mercury and acid gases. The EPA estimates the new standards would prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, 2,800 cases of chronic bronchitis and up to 2,600 hospital admissions by 2016.


“The dangerous health risks associated with coal-burning power plants is no longer an elusive, distant threat. Exposure to air pollution and toxic chemicals can cause asthma and heart attacks, harm those suffering from respiratory illness and in some cases lead to death,” said Alan Baker, interim executive director of APHA. “Implementing these critically needed standards could mean the difference between a chronic debilitating, expensive illness or healthy life for hundreds of thousands of American children and adults.”


Poor air quality disproportionately burdens minority, low-income and marginalized communities. The rules will go into effect immediately, and plants have three years to meet the requirements.


APHA will continue to work with Congress and the administration to ensure EPA maintains its authority under the Clean Air Act to fulfill its duties of safeguarding the public’s health from dangerous and deadly air pollution.


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Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at