Cleaning Up Mercury, Protecting Our Health

Cleaning Up Mercury,
Protecting Our Health

Cement plants are among the nation's worst toxic polluters. After years of work by Earthjustice and our allies, on August 9, 2010, EPA chief Lisa Jackson announced strong health standards to reduce cement plants’ toxic emissions.

These protections will cut emissions of mercury and particulate matter by 92 percent, saving as many as 2,500 lives every year.


Videos: Mercury From Above

Seattle flyover.

Cement Kilns in Seattle

Featuring two Seattle cement kilns, located near downtown Seattle, WA. (Created with Google Earth.)

Watch video

Cupertino flyover.

Cement Kiln in Cupertino

Featuring the Cupertino cement kiln, located just outside San Francisco, CA. (Created with Google Earth.)

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Interactive Map: Close to Home?

Map of cement kilns.

Explore an interactive map of cement kilns in the United States, including those that burn hazardous waste. Do you live or work near one of these kilns? (Source: U.S. EPA and the Portland Cement Association)

View Map

Background Resources

Photo of smokestack.Looking for fact sheets, recent press releases, and other background materials? Look no further. This page collects recent resources that you can use to find out more about the effort to reduce toxic air pollution from our nation's cement plants.

See Background Resources

Power plants: Still Mercury Polluters

Photo of smokestack.Power plants remain our nation's biggest mercury polluters overall. It's no surprise: many of them burn millions of tons of coal each year, and the government has done little to stop them. But the technology exists to clean these plants up significantly. Doing so would have a big impact right away and wouldn't only make fish caught in local lakes, streams, and rivers safer to eat: we'd all be safer, too.

Earthjustice went to court and defeated a plan that would have allowed even higher mercury emissions from power plants. We also won a historic agreement in which the EPA agreed to reduce mercury emissions from power plants. The EPA’s proposal is scheduled for release on March 16, 2011. We'll keep you up-to-date on the progress and what you can do to help.

Featured Stories

Take Action! There should be no more delay in cleaning up dirty industries and making polluters spend money on protecting public health rather than trying to win elections. Please take a moment to write President Obama and tell him that protecting clean air standards and moving toward a clean energy future are important to you!
Representative John Carter (R-TX) wants to block the EPA's health protections against cement plants' toxic air pollution, which will save as many as 2,500 lives every year. But in his effort to prevent these health protections from ever taking effect, he has seriously misrepresented the facts.
After a decade of litigation and activism, on Aug. 9, 2010, the EPA finally announced plans to cut more than 16,000 pounds of mercury from our nation's cement kilns every year, starting in 2013.
According to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 160,000 American lives were saved in 2010 by the Clean Air Act’s health protections. Four decades of clean air protections have made the U.S. stronger, healthier and more prosperous.
Dr. Hightower, a board certified internal medicine physician in California, published a landmark study that brought the issue of mercury in seafood to national attention. She spoke with Earthjustice supporters and answered some commonly-asked questions about mercury in our food supply.
A groundbreaking 2008 report from Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). The study found that cement kilns emit mercury pollution at more than twice the level estimated by the EPA.