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Researchers Publish List Of Top ‘Toxic 20′ States

July 21, 2011

Two leading American environmental groups said on Wednesday that Ohio tops the list for the top 20 U.S. states with toxic emissions from coal and oil-fired power plants.

According to the report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility, electricity generation and chemical processing were the top culprits for dangerous emissions. 

Ohio topped the list of 20 states most affected by toxic air pollution, followed by Pennsylvania and Florida.  Kentucky and Maryland ranked fourth and fifth on the list, followed by Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.

“Power plants are the biggest industrial toxic air polluters in our country, putting children and families at risk by dumping deadly and dangerous poisons into the air we breathe,” Dan Lashof, director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

The study found that coal and oil-fired plants were responsible for about half of all toxic air pollution in America.

The report, which was an analysis of toxic emission data from 2009 released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month, compared data from the electric utilities sector to those from other industry sectors and ranked on the basis of total emissions by sector.

Electricity generation in the U.S. was responsible for 49 percent of all industrial toxic air pollution in 2009.  It also accounted for about 75 percent of all mercury air pollution, according to the study.

Lashof said the findings highlight the importance for the EPA to spur industry to clean up emissions.

The group said amendments designed to block the EPA’s air pollution standards are expected to be brought before the U.S. House of Representatives this week.

“Tougher standards are long overdue. Members of Congress who consider blocking toxic pollution safeguards should understand that this literally will cost American children and families their health and lives,” Lashof said in a statement.

The house voted to thwart the EPA from making rules to limit mercury and other toxic emissions from cement plants in February.

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