The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced new air quality rules for industrial boilers and incinerators. The proposed standards, under the Clean Air Act, would significantly reduce toxic air pollutants such as mercury and soot emitted by these boilers and provide critical and overdue health benefits to Americans as well as clean up our nation’s lakes, streams and waterways.
Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation at EPA, said the new standards are “solid, achievable and based on best scientific data and will lead to public health benefits.”
Harmful air pollutants released by boilers and incinerators can lead to adverse health effects, including cancer, heart disease, aggravated asthma and premature death. According to the EPA, the new standards could avoid up to 8,100 premature deaths, prevent 5,100 heart attacks and avert 52,000 asthma attacks per year in 2015. McCarthy estimates that the standards could reduce health-related costs by $28 billion to $69 billion each year.
“We’re committed to getting these standards right and getting the American public with the vital health protections Americans deserve,” said McCarthy.
Less than 1 percent of existing boilers and incinerators across the country — approximately 55,000 — would be required to install pollution controls to reduce emissions. There is a 60-day comment period for the new standards. EPA hopes to finalize the standards by spring 2012.