Clean Air Task Force

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Death and Disease from Power Plants

In 2000, 2004 and again in 2010, the Clean Air Task Force issued studies based on work by Abt Associates quantifying the deaths and other adverse health affects attributable to the fine particle air pollution resulting from power plant emissions. Using the most recent emissions data, in this 2014 study, CATF examines the continued progress towards cleaning up one of the nation's leading sources of air pollution. This latest report finds that over 7,500 deaths each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. power plants. This represents a dramatic reduction in power plant health impacts from the previous studies.

This reduction reflects improvements due to a variety of federal and state regulatory and enforcement initiatives that CATF has supported, including the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule (MATS) and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and the active enforcement of existing regulations such as New Source Review (NSR). Since 2004, these measures have dropped Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) pollution by 68% and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) by 55%, the leading components of fine particle pollution. This was achieved through the near doubling of the amount of scrubbers (the technology used for reducing SO2 pollution) installed at power plants and additional retirements of coal capacity. Yet, despite this progress, some in the power industry and several recalcitrant states persist in trying to overturn the MATS and CSAPR regulations in court and reverse this life-saving trend.

Our 2004 study showed that power plant impacts exceeded 24,000 deaths a year, but by 2010 that had been reduced to roughly 13,000 deaths due to the impact that state and federal actions were beginning to have. The updated study shows that strong regulations that require stringent emission controls can have a dramatic impact in reducing air pollution across the country, saving lives, and avoiding a host of other adverse health impacts. The study also shows regrettably that some areas of the country still suffer from unnecessary levels of pollution from power plants that could be cleaned up with the application of proven emission control technologies.

The interactive map below allows you to learn of the risk in your state or county simply by clicking on the Google Map. Click on your state, zoom into your county, or click on a power plant to view a variety of health impacts and other data.

Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution

(Click on Your State Below)
Click on a State to Zoom In
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* The results shown represent a specific year's plant operations. Plant operating levels change from year to year, and can be higher or lower than represented in our data. However, for the most part, power plant health impacts have dropped significantly in recent years. Data is estimated 2012 impacts. All monetary values are expressed in thousands of dollars.
County level data is health impacts/100,000 persons.