Mercury is a toxin that few people think about, yet it contaminates many aspects of our daily lives. It can be found in fish, in groundwater, and in the air we all breathe every day. Even fewer people realize that the simple flick of the light switch can contribute to mercury pollution. Mercury often comes from coal-fired power plants, where tens of thousands of pounds of it are dispelled throughout our air every year. Texas power plants emit the the most mercury out of any other state, with the least regulation.
Mercury has many effects on our health, even in trace amounts. According to the EPA’s website1, some of the many effects mercury has can include:
- “For fetuses, infants, and children, the primary health effect of methylmercury is impaired neurological development.”
- “Mercuric chloride has caused increases in several types of tumors in rats and mice, and methylmercury has caused kidney tumors in male mice.”
Worst part is: mercury is not currently regulated.
In December of this year, the EPA plans to protect the public from polluters that poison our air and water with a new air quality safeguard. Specifically, this new protection will guard us from life-threatening pollution from power plants, such as mercury and arsenic. It is called the “Mercury, Arsenic, and Dioxin Reduction Rule,” is also known as the “Power Plant MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) Standard.”
The EPA is set to finalize this proposed mercury protection next month and we want to make sure they make it across the finish line! So what can you do to ensure polluters are held accountable for the poisonous mercury they emit?
You can host a teach-in.
A teach-in is an education-to-action tactic which utilizes the power of social networks in energizing supporters and getting more people engaged. Teach-ins are a powerful and fun way to build community. It focuses on bringing people together to learn as a group, and take action as a collective. Participants get to know other people and have conversations about their own stories and values and our shared values as a community.
December 5th is the first day of Mercury Awareness Week and the Sierra Club wants to help YOU host a teach-in. It’s social, it’s fun, it’s educational, and it’ll help ensure we are protected from mercury pollution!
If you are interested in hosting a teach-in, please contact Lydia Avila, Sierra Club Organizer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-477-1729.
- Kat Herrera, Houston Beyond Coal intern.