ATS Comments and Testimony

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Statement on EPA's Power Plant Air Toxics Rule

Today, the EPA proposed a badly needed updated air quality standard to protect Americans against life-threatening air pollution such as mercury and arsenic from power plants. The American Thoracic Society supports this vitally important move by the EPA.

Under the proposed rule, the EPA will set new air toxics emissions limits based on the pollution reductions already achieved by the cleanest and best-performing power plants and facilities, ensuring that the standards set are both achievable and realistic.

The proposed rule could save thousands of lives each year, and spare countless individuals from the harmful effects of some of the most toxic air pollutants known to us. Even in small amounts these extremely harmful air pollutants are linked cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and even premature death.

As a society of healthcare professionals who specialize in pulmonary and critical care medicine, the ATS whole-heartedly supports the proposed rule. The effects are not just theoretical; our membership encounters individuals every day whose health is compromised, or whose lives are lost, because of these toxic pollutants released into the air by the power industry. As healthcare professionals, we must do everything possible to help our patients, but as citizens and humans, we must take a broader view and advocate for stopping the problem at its source.

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Last Reviewed: June 2016