Washington, D.C., March 16, 2011 – The American Public Health Association strongly
supports a proposed rule issued today by the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) to safeguard the public’s health from dangerous air pollutants by
reducing the level of toxins emitted by coal- and oil-burning power plants.
The proposal is a
significant step to cleaning up toxics such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, arsenic
and other harmful pollutants that pervade the air in many local communities,
especially those in close proximity to power plants, and jeopardize the health
of all Americans.
Under the new rule by the
Clean Air Act, all existing coal- and oil-burning plants that produce 25
megawatts or more of electricity will be required to install control technology
to reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants. New plants will be required to
meet the same level of technology and protections.
“Hazardous air emissions
from coal- and oil-burning power plants cause a whole range of serious and
immediate human health risks,” said Georges
C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “These pollutants
can worsen asthma and other respiratory diseases; cause heart attacks, cancers
and stroke; and exact an enormous economic toll in terms of health-related
costs and lost productivity. We applaud EPA for following the clear evidence in
cleaning up these toxins from the air we breathe and safeguarding the public’s health.”
The final regulations are
expected to take effect within four years from the date EPA makes them final,
which is expected by Nov. 16, 2011.