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Power Plants Are Top U.S. Air Polluters

Coal and oil-fired power plants are the top air polluters in the United States and Canada. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation said power plants accounted for almost half of all industrial air emissions in 2001. In addition, 46 of the top 50 polluters were coal and oil-fired power plants. The survey of chemical pollution from industrial facilities shows that power plants burning coal and oil produced 45 percent of the 755,502 tons of toxic air releases in 2001. Power plants, mainly those using coal, were also responsible for 64 percent of all mercury air emissions. Mercury occurs naturally in coal and is released when the fossil fuel is burned to produce electricity. Mercury can build up in a highly toxic form as it moves up the food chain. Those exposed, especially children, can suffer neurological and developmental damage. The toxic emissions from these power plants are a major reason why most all fish is no longer safe to eat.

CNN June 2, 2004

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