Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury air pollution, accounting for roughly 40 percent of all mercury emissions nationwide, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mercury is a highly toxic metal that, once released into the atmosphere, settles in lakes and rivers, where it moves up the food chain to humans. The Centers for Disease Control has found that roughly six percent of American women carry mercury concentrations at levels considered to put a fetus at risk of neurological damage.
The U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) tracks mercury emissions from approximately 475 electric generating facilities across the United States. It is too early to tell exactly how much mercury all power plants reported in 2007. However, based on a review of the reports filed by 108 of the largest power plants,3 the most recent, 2007, Toxics Release Inventory will bring disturbing news.