On the Radio: Power plants put Iowans at risk for mercury poisoning


Photo from Environment Iowa's report: "Dirty Energy's Assault on our Health - Mercury"

Listen top this week’s radio segment on the thousands of pounds of mercury that escape Iowa’s power plants. For more information on mercury’s health risks see this post.

It’s poisonous and plentiful. Each year, Iowa’s power plants spew hundreds of pounds of mercury into the air.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from Environment Iowa. In 2009, Iowa’s power plants emitted more than 2,700 pounds of the chemical. One plant, in Council Bluffs, emits 709 pounds of mercury by itself – the most in Iowa, according to the report.

After the plants release mercury, it falls back to Earth, where it builds up in fish and animals that people consume.

Long exposure to low levels of mercury can damage people’s hearts and immune systems. Higher levels can harm the nervous system, and potentially cause death, according to the EPA. It can also cause birth defects.

This goes to show that our shift to cleaner energy doesn’t just benefit our environment; it protects our health.

For more information, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

I’m Jerry Schnoor from the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

Thank You.

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