Air contaminants from power plants, vehicles and other sources can contribute to asthma-causing conditions and serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and nervous system impacts. Such impacts can be felt not only near the plants, but also hundreds of miles away as pollutants drift downwind or are deposited on land and in waterways.
Coal-burning power plants can also emit mercury, which falls into waterways and can accumulate in the food families eat. This potent neurotoxin can cause permanent damage to the brains of children, leading to developmental delays, learning disabilities and birth defects.
Federal laws such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act and their state counterparts place restrictions on what can be emitted and discharged from factories, including power plants. Unfortunately, the cumulative impact of all these discharges still gives many scientists concern. ORF continues to work with its partners to insist on scientifically sound emission rules and the strict enforcement of operating permits and pollution laws by state and federal regulators.