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New Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Released

Posted on December 22, 2011
by Wendy Stackhouse

There was big news in air quality yesterday as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced new regulations for mercury and other air toxins.

From Ms. Jackson’s statement, “By cutting emissions that are linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses like asthma, these standards represent a major victory for clean air and public health– and especially for the health of our children.”

What Are Air Toxics?

Air toxics are contaminants that may cause cancer, birth defects or other serious health problems like asthma, reduced fertility and neurological disorders. Mercury, along with asbestos, arsenic, nickel, cyanide, dioxin and other compounds, is classified as an air toxic.

How Are We Exposed to Air Toxics?

In addition to breathing polluted air, air toxics like mercury can be deposited in water or soil where they can enter the food chain by being ingested by animals.

Humans are exposed to air toxics through:

    • Breathing polluted air
    • Eating food products contaminated by toxics
    • Drinking contaminated water
    • Eating contaminated dirt (common behavior in small children)
    • Touching contaminated dirt, water or dust

Where Do Air Toxics Come From?

Air Toxics come from natural sources like volcanoes and forest fires, but mostly are human-made: combustion engines, power plants, construction materials and solvents.

How Do the New Rules Affect Air Toxics?

The new standards will reduce air pollution from power plants through the use of existing technology that is already being used in newer coal-fired plants. The power plants have 3 years to come into compliance, with a possible fourth year for special problems.

The EPA expects that new rules will prevent up to 4,700 heart attacks and 11,000 premature deaths per year in the US. They will also prevent 130,000 childhood asthma cases as well as 6,300 cases of acute bronchitis in children.

These new standards will eventually seriously curtail our exposure to mercury and other toxic compounds which are causing thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of illnesses every year in the US.

AirTek is committed to cleaner air, indoors and out. If your commercial building or residence needs to improve its indoor air, please contact us for help cleaning your ducts, vents and exhaust hoods.

Everyone at AirTek wishes you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and Alliance Environmental Group. She welcomes your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on Asbestos, Bed Bugs, Mold, Lead and other environmental issues, Like us at Alliance Environmental Group on Facebook!

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