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Last week, the EPA issued new standards for coal-fired power plants. The new rules will minimize air pollution in states downwind from power plants and reduce the allowable release of mercury and other potential pollutants from plants within the next three years. Mercury is often found in coal and it is released into the air when coal is burned to generate electricity. Mercury is a neurotoxin. It can affect humans directly through the breathing of contaminated air or it can make its way through the food chain and eventually into humans by ingestion.

These rulings will require older power plants to close down or improve their processes to meet the standards. The EPA estimates that this will prevent 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 childhood asthma attacks per year. This is an important step forward for air quality. You can read the rules and find more background information at the EPA's website.