What are the biggest sources of mercury air emissions in the U.S.?
According to EPA's 2011 National Emissions Inventory Technical Support Document (June 2014) http://www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/net/2011nei/2011_nei_tsdv1_draft2_june2014.pdf , coal-fired electric power plants are the largest source of human-caused mercury air emissions in the U.S. These power plants account for 25.4 tons per year of emissions -- about 49% of total U.S. man-made mercury emissions. Other large sources are:
- Electric arc furnaces used in steelmaking (about 10% of U.S. mercury emissions),
- Industrial boilers (about 7%), and
- Burning waste from the manufacture of Portland cement (about 5.5%)
Burning municipal waste and medical waste was once a larger source of emissions. Today, in response to EPA and state regulations and reductions in mercury use, emissions from these sources have declined over 95 percent.
To read a more complete discussion in the Technical Support Document about trends in mercury emissions, see section 2.6, beginning on page 26.
- EPA’s Report on the Environment (includes a bar chart that shows anthropogenic (human-caused) mercury emissions in the United States by source category from 1990 to 2008): http://cfpub.epa.gov/roe/indicator.cfm?i=14 .
- Mercury Emissions: The Global context: http://www2.epa.gov/international-cooperation/mercury-emissions-global-context
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- Topic #: 23002-21198
- Date Created: 1/19/2005
- Last Modified Since: 8/7/2014
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