(Winston Salem Journal) Mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants in North Carolina have gone down 70 percent over the past decade, according to a new study released by the state.
The N.C. Division of Air Quality presented the findings to the state Environmental Management Commission on Thursday.
“We knew that scrubbers and other controls would reduce mercury emissions, but the actual reductions were larger than we expected,” Sheila Holman, director of the air quality division, said in a news release.
State officials attribute the decreased presence of the emissions to the 2002 Clean Smokestack Act that forced the state’s 14 coal-fired power plants to reduce their nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions by about three-fourths over a period of 10 years.
Mercury is a highly toxic metal that can permeate ecosystems and food supplies. High levels of mercury in waters can cause fish to become unhealthy to eat, especially for children and pregnant women.
“This is a reminder that mercury is a huge problem in the state and, when you look across the state and definitely in the coastal plains, most waters have mercury problems,” said Geoff Gisler, staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.
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