The American Lung Association (ALA) has launched a TV and digital ad campaign touting EPA’s Clean Power Plan, also called the carbon “pollution” rule for existing power plants.
ALA’s Facebook page offers a brief explanation:
Power plant pollution is a serious threat to our health, especially to kids. Check out our new television commercial to see what we’re doing to standup for little lungs vs. big polluters.
The commercial, titled “Mother’s Instinct,” features a baby boy in a crib with a monitor that lets Mom (and us) hear him breathing.
Here’s the text:
The Clean Air Act stops polluters from poisoning his [the baby's] air with arsenic, lead, and mercury. Now the loophole that let’s them pump unlimited carbon pollution into his air is closing too . . . if polluters and their friends in Washington don’t interfere. Don’t let polluters weaken our clean air protection.
As the narrator says the words “if polluters,” the baby disappears from the screen and instead we see what looks like smoke billowing out of the stack of a coal power plant.
Fact check time. First, mercury emissions from power plants do not poison anyone’s air. When mercury emissions deposit in soils and water bodies, bacteria can transform inorganic mercury (Hg) into methylmercury (CH3Hg), an organic compound that can bioaccumlate in aquatic food webs. In theory, American women who consume hundreds of pounds of self-caught (non-commercial) fish from the most contaminated water bodies can damage the cognitive and neurological development of their unborn children. However, in the 24 years since Congress tasked EPA to study the health risks of mercury, the agency has not identified a single child whose learning or other disabilities can be traced to prenatal mercury exposure due to maternal fish consumption. But even if mercury in fish were a significant health hazard, it would still be false to claim that power-plant mercury emissions poison the air kids breathe.
The case is somewhat similar for arsenic. Inhalation is a “route of exposure” but mainly as an occupational hazard at certain types of industrial facilities that emit arsine gas. For the general population, which includes children, the main route of exposure is ingestion of contaminated food or water.
More importantly, carbon dioxide (CO2), the substance targeted by EPA’s Clean Power Plan, is non-toxic to humans and animals at multiple times today’s atmospheric concentration (~400 parts per million) or any level reasonably anticipated for centuries to come. [click to continue…]