The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently announced a new proposal to control toxic air pollution such as mercury from coal burning power plants. As a health conscious student and a woman of child-bearing age, I strongly support EPA’s decision.
I take my health very seriously. As a naturally active person, I enjoy the positive effects of regular physical exercise. I buy organic foods to put clean and nutritious food in my body. The health education in public schools, as well as public health announcements on children’s television, instilled in me the lesson that if I eat right and exercise, I am more likely to perform better academically, live longer and have an all around better attitude. It is frightening and frustrating that despite my best efforts, my health and that of my future children is threatened by the actions of others. For instance, I cannot control the quality of the air that I must breathe. Coal- and oil-fired plants release more than 386,000 tons of 84 different hazardous pollutants into the air each year. Many of these air pollutants are damaging to our health , but as a young woman, I am particularly concerned with the dangerous amounts of mercury that are dumped into our air, water and bodies by coal-fired power plants.
According to the EPA, in this country, one in six women of child-bearing age may have enough mercury in her body to put her child at risk, should she become pregnant. High blood levels of methyl mercury in fetuses and children are extremely dangerous. Mercury can harm the nervous system and interfere with the development of a growing child’s brain. Impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills have been seen in children exposed to methyl mercury in the womb. As a woman of child-bearing age that hopes to have a family of my own some day, this is frightening to me. As a woman, I must speak up about the need to reduce the amount of mercury pollution being put into our environment, which threatens our health and that of children and future children of expecting mothers everywhere. There are many in Congress today who are determined to downplay the link between air pollution and health and do not apparently share my concerns or those of the American people about this important health threat. There are efforts in Congress to prevent the EPA from moving forward on important air quality regulations for dangerous pollutants, including carbon and mercury. I know that voters may have voted for many things in the November election, but one of the things they did not vote for was dirtier air and water. This is evident in a recent American Lung Association poll which shows that 68 percent of likely voters feel that Congress should not stop the EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards.
I am happy that the EPA is moving forward with efforts to reduce harmful pollutants from my environment and urge Pennsylvania’s leaders in U.S. Congress to allow them to do so, for the health of women, mothers and children every where.