Facing South

INSTITUTE INDEX: Coal power's mercury menace

map_mercury_us_power_plants.pngRank of coal-fired power plants among America's biggest sources of air pollution: 1

Of the five leading causes of death in the United States, number to which coal plant pollution contributes: 4

Number of U.S. water bodies impaired by mercury, a particularly toxic component of coal plant pollution: 3,781

Of the 50 U.S. states, number that have fish consumption advisories due to unsafe mercury pollution levels: 50

Factor by which one study found mercury concentrations in fish have increased from the 1930s to today: 10

Portion of U.S. women of childbearing age who have enough mercury in their bloodstream to put their offspring at risk of health effects: 1 in 6

Percentage of U.S. women of childbearing age that had inorganic mercury in their blood in 1999: 2

That percentage in 2006: 30

Amount of mercury deposited in a mid-sized lake over the course of a year that was enough to account for all of the mercury subsequently found in the lake's fish: 1 gram, or 0.0022 pounds

Amount of mercury released by U.S. coal-fired power plants in 2009: 134,365 pounds

Of the 10 most polluting U.S. power plants in 2009, number in Texas: 4

Amount of mercury emitted in 2009 by the Martin Lake power plant in Tatum, Texas, the top polluter: 2,660 pounds

Of the 10 states with the highest levels of mercury pollution from power plants in 2009, number in the South: 5*

For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released to the environment, increase in the rate of special education services in Texas: 43 percent

In the rate of autism: 61 percent

Of the 19 states that currently have mercury emission reduction standards for power plants, number in the South: 3**

Date when the Environmental Protection Agency is legally obligated to propose a new federal standard to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants: 3/2011

Amount by which environmental advocates are calling on the EPA to cut power plant mercury pollution: 90 percent

* Those 10 states in descending order of mercury emissions are Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, North Carolina, Alabama and Michigan

** Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina

(All of the figures in this index and the map above come from "Dirty Energy's Assault on Our Health: Mercury," Environment America, January 2011. Click on map for a larger image.)


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