Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A few concrete facts...

In June, the EPA held three national public hearings on proposed rules limiting cement industry pollution, including the first ever limits for MERCURY emissions. The rules would significantly decrease some of the most dangerous kinds of air pollution cement plants release, including Mercury, Particulate Matter, or soot, Hydrochloric Acid, and chemicals contributing to smog called Total Hydrocarbons. The hearings took place in Washington D.C., Dallas/Fort Worth, and Los Angeles.

Cement kilns are some of the biggest mercury polluters in the country. Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that can impair a child's ability to walk, talk, read, write and learn. Mercury also interferes with the brain and nervous system and can affect blood pressure, fertility, can cause memory loss and tremors.

"Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath, Minamata" (1972), by W. Eugene Smith
Tomoko suffered from Minamata disease,
caused by industrial pollution of Minamata's bay with mercury.

Hydrochloric acid is corrosive to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure may cause eye, nose, and respiratory tract irritation and inflammation and pulmonary edema in humans. Acute oral exposure may cause corrosion of the mucous membranes, esophagus, and stomach and dermal contact may produce severe burns, ulceration, and scarring in humans. Chronic (long-term) occupational exposure to hydrochloric acid has been reported to cause gastritis, chronic bronchitis, dermatitis, and photosensitization in workers. Prolonged exposure to low concentrations may also cause dental discoloration and erosion. Ingestion may be fatal. Lethal to fish. Toxic for aquatic organisms due to pH shift.

While most area residents attending the Texas hearing voiced concern over the fundamental human rights at stake, "You can't get much more basic than the need to breathe clean air," said one. Another resident, unsympathetic with cement industry concerns over the cost of the proposed rules on mercury, hydrochloric acid, hydrocarbons and particulates said, "Put them out of business until they can make clean cement."

As is typical of industry, cement producers claim the cost of doing business as it should be done, with safeguards in place protecting our vital lifeline resources: air, land and water, and so, us, would have a negative effect on their economy, and by extension, the overall economy and economic recovery. It's a defensive posture aimed at maximizing profits at any price.

To learn more about cement plants, mercury pollution and regulation, CLICK HERE, HERE and HERE.
For industry spin, CLICK HERE.


1 comment:

  1. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.



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