World’s Top Environmental Success Stories

By Tom Randall and Eric Roston - 2012-09-18T01:07:59Z

Photograph by Dennis Macdonald

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Mercury Emissions

Coal-burning power plants and industrial facilities emit trace amounts of mercury, which accumulate in the environment -- particularly in fish and shellfish. The FDA cautions women of childbearing age against eating swordfish, king mackerel and other fish, and it encourages limiting tuna intake.

The Obama administration issued a rule in December that sets emissions limits on mercury and other hazardous air pollutants. The Utility Air Regulatory Group, an industry coalition, has filed a legal challenge to the law.

The EPA called power plants "the largest remaining source of several toxic air pollutants" and estimates the new rule might prevent as many as 46,000 premature deaths, 540,000 child asthma attacks and 24,500 ER or hospital visits.

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