Local physician Dr. Steven Ashmead posted an excellent editorial on mlive yesterday detailing the health risks of coal and why we should regulate it. The implementation of new EPA standards to limit mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants is being threatened by some in Congress. Dr. Ashmead warns that failure to pass the EPA standards would be bad news for Michiganders.
According to Dr. Ashmead, just a gram-sized drop of mercury can contaminate a 20-acre lake – that’s roughly the size of Fisk Lake in East Grand Rapids. New EPA standards would ensure that 90% of mercury emitted from power plants is cleaned up, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives across the country.
“Mercury is one of the worst of the pollutants from coal-fired power plants. A dangerous neurotoxin, mercury from coal-fired power plants gets into Michigan rivers, lakes and streams and makes it way to the human body via contaminated fish. It then accumulates in fish and the people who eat them, causing serious birth defects and neurological problems.
Mercury exposure puts pregnant women and their babies at risk for learning disabilities, developmental disorders, and lower IQs. Exposure to mercury while in the womb can contribute to birth defects, neurological disorders, learning disabilities, developmental delays and cerebral palsy,” wrote Ashmead.
WMEAC also supports the new EPA standards. For more information, check out Kelly Dolson’s recent blog post about the harmful effects that coal pollution and mercury contamination can have on your health.