What are the biggest sources of mercury air emissions in the U.S.?
According to EPA's 2008 National Emissions Inventory, version 2, http://www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/net/2008inventory.html#inventorydoc, coal-fired electric power plants are the largest source of human-caused mercury air emissions in the U.S. These power plants account for about 48% of total U.S. man-made mercury emissions. Other large sources are:
- Industrial boilers (about 7% of U.S. mercury emissions),
- Burning waste from the manufacture of Portland cement (about 7%),
- Electric arc furnaces used in steelmaking (about 8%), and
- Gold mining (about 3%).
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.
- 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.
- Learn more about what the National Emissions Inventory tells us about mercury by reading pages 23-28 in the 2008 NEI Technical Support Document: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/net/2008neiv2/2008_neiv2_tsd_draft.pdf
- For information about worldwide mercury emissions see: Mercury Emissions: The Global context: http://www.epa.gov/international/toxics/mercury/mercury_context.html
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- Topic #: 23002-21198
- Date Created: 1/19/2005
- Last Modified Since: 4/9/2014
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