Mercury Polluters May Be Allowed To Carry On Without Consequence


By†Moms Clean Air Force

This is a guest post from Albert A Rizzo, MD. Dr. Rizzo is the National Volunteer Chair of the American Lung Association.

There is a lot being said in the news lately about how leaders in Washington are working to weaken or even repeal basic clean air protections. This week especially, the debate over regulating emissions from industrial boilers and cement plants has captured headlines across the nation.

Yet, what all this boiler and cement talk really means to everyday people hasnít been made entirely clear. Bottom line, serious public health protections are on the line. Industrial boilers and cement plants are the second and third largest sources, respectively, of mercury and other toxic emissions and directly contribute to thousands of deaths each year.

Industrial boilers are most often used to produce electricity at chemical and manufacturing plants, paper mills and refineries. These boilers operate by burning oil, coal and other dirty substances, which create a toxic by-product of soot, mercury and other harmful agents that are released into our airways in alarming volumes. Breathing these air toxics can cause serious harm to the circulatory, respiratory, nervous, endocrine and other essential life systems. Pollution from industrial boilers is also a known cause of cancer, developmental disorders and premature death.

In addition to mercury, the kilns used in the cement manufacturing process are also a significant source of soot, smog and cancer-causing emissions. These kilns are a key component in the energy intensive process that heats, grinds and mixes the raw materials that comprise cement. Breathing emissions from cement plants can exacerbate asthma and other chronic lung diseases, increase hospitalization rates, impair childrenís lung function and development, trigger heart attacks and even cause death.

The EPA wants to protect public health by calling on manufacturers that use industrial boilers or cement kilns in their operations to install widely available pollution control technologies. Doing so would prevent 1.4 tons of mercury and more than 500,000 tons of other dangerous air toxins generated by industrial boilers alone from entering our airways each year. This achievable cleanup effort would also prevent 41,000 asthma attacks, 78,000 cases of respiratory symptoms and 4,300 hospital and emergency room visits caused each year by breathing air pollution from industrial boilers.

Between 2,500-6,000 premature deaths would also be avoided each year in addition to returning 310,000 missed school and workdays to the economy.

Cleaning up cement kilns would prevent another 17,000 cases of aggravated asthma, 1,000 emergency room visits for respiratory problems and 1,500 heart attacks each year. Between 960 and 2,500 avoidable deaths will be prevented and 130,000 missed work days will be returned to working families annually.

Considering the abundance of health benefits by simply reducing emissions from industrial boilers and cement kilns would deliver, itís hard to understand why anyone in Washington would even debate such common sense measures. However, some vocal members of Congress donít see it that way and want to delay required cleanup actions indefinitely.

Delaying cleanup efforts means more lives will be lost, more asthma attacks will send people to the emergency room, more children will suffer from respiratory infections and compromised lung development.

Sometimes it seems our lawmakers in Washington forget that these statistics actually represent real people and often the most vulnerable among us including children, pregnant women, older adults and people living with serious lung diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Consider sending your representatives in Congress a picture of your children or a loved one with lung disease to serve as a visual reminder of why protecting healthy air really does make a difference in the lives of everyday people.

For more information on how to protect your family from pollution, visit the†American Lung Associationís website.

Thank you Dr. Rizzo for all the fine work you do to protect clean air for our families!

Dr. Rizzo is chief of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine section at Christiana Care Health Systems, and he serves as managing partner and medical director of the Lung Health and Sleep Enhancement Center at Pulmonary Associates. He also served a vital role in establishing the Delaware Asthma Consortium, which now includes more than 60 members form the Delaware community, pharmaceutical companies and businesses to address the management and care of individuals with asthma. He has been an active and much valued Lung Association volunteer for more than 20 years.

Please join Moms Clean Air Force


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Brian M.
Past Member 5 years ago

The 1% rule the world, exploit its resources, poison it with pollution, and exploit the 99%'s labor. Yet, in the end, 100% of us will die from the environmental disaster already occurring on this planet. Our species will not survive climate change...we won't even last another 100 years...if we don't take radical actions now.

Victoria Pitchford
Vicky P5 years ago

There is no justice for normal people. Money rules the world and I'm tired of it -.-

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson5 years ago

double unreal.

Victoria M.
Past Member 5 years ago


Laurie Greenberg
Laurie Greenberg5 years ago

Yes, it's a sunny day in autumn! Let's go out and breathe in the fresh...Mercury? I so enjoy going on a fun hike outside with grandma and the kids and breathing the fresh...toxins? Then, we have another outing as a family- taking little Jimmy and Grandma to the ER for a nice little breathing treatment. I KNOW that these companies will be putting in the proper equipment to contain the toxins soon- I THINK they might care about Jimmy and Grandma- oh, who am I kidding? It's the usual bottom line- PROFITS!- and if they need to spend even a few dollars of that profit for the sake of public health, well, let's say it right out- JIMMY AND GRANDMA ARE DOOMED!

Dorota W.

sure..and then later they will tax us all for that.

Marilyn NOfwds D.
5 years ago

It amazes me that asthma medication with a propellant has been outlawed and leaves many of us without our medication.....but these monstrous emissions are permissible.
Pathetic values....

Deborah L.
Deborah L5 years ago

Who's got an extra hundred grand we can use to buy us a politician? That's what it's gonna take to be heard, unless we all make Big Noise by contacting, calling, writing, emailing & threatening our Representatives with recall or to be Voted out of office if no changes are made.

Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

Next thing we know, health insurance will be telling us they won't pay for lung disease.
Seems like that's the way things are going.

Holy Lawrence
Holly Lawrence5 years ago

Few Congress members care - what most care about are the freebies after by Lobbysists for these companies .. sad sad thing!