Iowa named top-20 toxic state

Photo by hartanto, Flickr

Iowa was named among the top “toxic 20” states in the U.S. by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility. They judged the states’ toxicity by their coal and oil power plant pollution. The nation’s leaders included Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Kentucky. While Iowa was the 20th and final state to make the list, the Quad-City Times reports that the emissions from coal and oil power plants only begin to indicate Iowa’s total air pollution:

Half of the industrial pollutants in the U.S. come from coal- and oil-fired power plants. Nationwide, 381.7 million tons of toxic air pollution comes from the electric sector, the report said.

In Iowa, the picture is different.

The state, while ranked 20th in the report, saw only 16 percent of its industrial pollutants come from power plants, according to data from the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory.

The food, chemicals and metals manufacturing sectors ranked higher.

Dan Lashof, climate center director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said nonetheless that all pollutants need to be addressed, and he noted another EPA rule aimed at reducing pollution from industrial boilers also is being criticized.

“We should be cleaning up all sources of industrial pollution,” he said.

About 15.3 million pounds of toxic air pollution was emitted in Iowa in 2009, according to the data, with nearly 2.5 million coming from power plants. The state ranked 11th in mercury air pollution from power plants, the report said.


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