A new report jointly released from the National Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility puts Illinois in the so-called "Toxic 20" for state air pollution levels. The report named Illinois's 17th worst in the nation for toxic air pollution released from electricity-generating power plants.
"Illinois is a big industrial state with a...diversified economy...," said Dan Lashof, Climate Center director with the NRDC. "These emissions are substantial, and should be controlled. Illinois has taken some steps to reduce emissions, otherwise it might rank even higher, but...there continue to be a number of power plants and other sources that don't have any pollution controls in place for these toxic chemicals, and that needs to change."
Dr. Lynn Ringenberg of Physicians for Social Responsibility cited a report released last year by the National Association of Nurses that put the responsibility of increased asthma rates in children on the shoulders of power plant companies. "The pediatric asthma prevalence for the state is (200,000) to 300,000 kids, with close to 20,000 that had ER visits last year, so that's pretty significant," she said. "You're in the top six, seven, in the country with asthma prevalence."
According to the report, entitled “Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States”, power plants released 5.6 million pounds of chemicals in Illinois in 2009. They emitted 23 percent of state pollution and one percent of all toxic pollution of all power plants nationwide. Almost half of all the air pollution reported from industrial sources in the U.S. comes from coal and oil power plants. The report ultilized Environment Protection Agency data for its findings.
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