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AAP Applauds EPA on Final Toxic Emissions Standards

12/21/2011

Washington, DC—The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) today praised the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its final rule on toxic emission standards for all coal- and oil-fueled power plants.

The AAP, along with environmental groups, has long expressed concern about the health consequences for children from the government’s failure to limit mercury emissions from power plants. Mercury as a component of air pollution is a potent neurotoxin. The brain of the developing child is uniquely sensitive to methylmercury, and fetal exposure to methylmercury can cause devastating birth defects, including brain damage and progressive deafness and blindness.

“Simply put, dirty air makes people sick, particularly infants and children,” said AAP President Robert Block, MD, FAAP. “Toxins in the air, which can further accumulate in our water and food supply, can cause numerous health problems. Our children and communities suffer the consequences of polluted air in the form of illness, hospitalization, and even death. These new standards from the EPA place common-sense limits on toxins released by power plants.”

The final rule creates new standards for reducing toxic air pollutants from power plants, which will reduce emissions of mercury, other toxic metals (arsenic, chromium and nickel), acid gases (hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride), and particulate matter to the levels currently being achieved in the best-performing plants.

“Air pollution is costly - not only in terms of jobs, health care, and education - but also in human suffering and quality of life,” said Dr. Block. “Preventing air pollution is an investment that will pay off by avoiding birth defects and disabilities among our children and families.”

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.