Silver lining

Rules abate mercury pollution

Published: Thursday 15 January 2004

a us study shows that one should not be sceptical about efforts to clean up pollution. It proves that tough regulations to control mercury emissions almost immediately remove the toxic pollutant from the environment. The findings offer compelling evidence that regulators can swiftly address public health problems associated with mercury, which is a by-product of burning coal and waste.

The study was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency of Florida in Everglades National Park and the southern parts of the state. It was found that mercury levels in fish, such as the largemouth bass, declined by 60-75 per cent after the early 1990s, when the state authorities began a campaign to close down or modernise municipal incinerators that emit mercury.

The study also found that most of the mercury deposited in Florida's marine organisms and wildlife came directly from local and regional incinerators. To date, the pro-industry experts of the us contend that mercury pollution is carried around the world by wind. Therefore, forcing power plants to install costly anti-pollution equipment would not necessarily ensure a reduction in the emissions of the nation, they claim. Instead of putting an end to such hypocrisy, the Bush administration has amended laws to suit the industry.

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