USA Sets Limits to Reduce Mercury and Other Toxic Emissions from Cement Plants

The US-American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing final rules
that will protect Americans' health by cutting emissions of mercury, particle
pollution and other harmful pollutants from Portland cement manufacturing, the
third-largest source of mercury air emissions in the United States. The rules
are expected to yield $7 to $19 in public health benefits for every dollar in
costs. Mercury can damage children's developing brains, and particle pollution
is linked to a wide variety of serious health effects, including aggravated
asthma, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and premature death in people with
heart and lung disease.

"Americans throughout the country are suffering from the effects of pollutants
in our air, especially our children who are more vulnerable to these
chemicals," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. "This administration is
committed to reducing pollution that is hurting the health of our communities.
With this historic step, we are going a long way in accomplishing that goal. By
reducing harmful pollutants in the air we breathe, we cut the risk of asthma
attacks and save lives."

This action sets the nation's first limits on mercury air emissions from
existing cement kilns, strengthens the limits for new kilns, and sets emission
limits that will reduce acid gases. This final action also limits particle
pollution from new and existing kilns, and sets new-kiln limits for particle
and smog-forming nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.

When fully implemented in 2013, EPA estimates the annual emissions will be

  • Mercury - 16,600 pounds or 92 percent

  • Total hydrocarbons - 10,600 tons or 83 percent

  • Particulate Matter - 11,500 tons or 92 percent

  • Acid gases - (measured as hydrochloric acid): 5,800 tons or 97 percent

  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2) - 110,000 tons or 78 percent

  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx) - 6,600 tons or 5 percent

Mercury in the air eventually deposits into water, where it changes into
methylmercury, a highly toxic form that builds up in fish. People are primarily
exposed to mercury by eating contaminated fish. Because the developing fetus is
the most sensitive to the toxic effects of methylmercury, women of childbearing
age and children are regarded as the populations of greatest concern.

EPA estimates that the rules will yield $6.7 billion to $18 billion in health
and environmental benefits, with costs estimated at $926 million to $950
million annually in 2013. Another EPA analysis estimates emission reductions
and costs will be lower, with costs projected to be $350 million annually.

More info - Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)