Consortium Statement on the Proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards
The US EPA is currently considering a proposal to strengthen the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). This important rule, initially adopted in 2012 after more than two decades of delay, requires coal and oil-fired power plants to further reduce emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants. Although substantive strides have been made in reducing pollution — resulting in approximately $90 billion in health savings per year — newer technologies allow coal and oil-fired plants to reduce their emissions even more.
This is essential to protect health as no amount of exposure to hazardous pollutants like mercury is considered safe. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can cause neurodevelopmental delay and disability in infants. Air pollution from these fossil fuel-burning plants contains an additional 80 hazardous air pollutants that can cause cancer, respiratory issues, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality. Infants, pregnant individuals, older adults, people of color, people with lower incomes, and those with chronic medical conditions are more vulnerable to these pollutants.
The Consortium supports the EPA’s proposed strengthened rule and asks the EPA to finalize a more stringent alternative standard of no higher than 0.006 pounds per million British thermal units of heat input for non-mercury metal hazardous air pollutants.
Strengthening this rule will reap multiple benefits, including roughly three times more avoided premature respiratory mortalities from long-term and short-term ozone exposure in 2035, more than six times more avoided premature respiratory mortalities from particulate matter exposure in 2035, 10 times more avoided infant mortality from particulate matter exposure in 2035, and more than six times more avoided lost workdays, hospital admissions for cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses from particulate matter exposure in 2035.
Your voice matters! The more public comments the EPA receives in support of stronger rules, the more likely they are to pass. Use your voice as a health advocate, and use this guide to submit public comments here. Public comments are open until June 23rd.