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Small industrial boilers: A big burden on Ohio’s air?

COLUMBUS — “A new analysis is shedding light on a little-known source of toxic air pollution. Industrial boilers are the on-site power plants used by major industrial operations. They are believed to be contributing to the deaths of thousands of people across the country and in Ohio.

A report from Earthjustice finds these boilers are releasing millions of pounds of toxic pollutants into the air, including 800 pounds of mercury each year in Ohio alone. Earthjustice staff attorney Jim Pew explains that so much mercury can do a lot of damage.

‘Less than a teaspoon is enough to contaminate a 20-acre lake to the point where that lake is not safe to eat fish from, so 800 pounds is a remarkable amount – especially given that Ohio has other sources of mercury, as well.’

Among the states, Ohio ranks second for boiler emissions of mercury and first for lead and chromium emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing tighter boiler air-pollution standards that will bring industrial plants into Clean Air Act compliance, like other power plants. Some in the industry fear the planned federal rules could slow economic growth.”

— Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service

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