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The list of accusers against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continues to swell. Also on the Tuesday rundown: Hurricane Florence SNAPs North Carolina to attention on the importance of food benefits; plus a new report says young parents need better supports.

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Small Industrial Boilers: A Big Burden on Ohio’s Air?

February 27, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A new analysis is shedding light on a little-known source of toxic air pollution. Industrial boilers are the on-site power plants used by major industrial operations. They are believed to be contributing to the deaths of thousands of people across the country and in Ohio.

A report from Earthjustice finds these boilers are releasing millions of pounds of toxic pollutants into the air, including 800 pounds of mercury each year in Ohio alone. Earthjustice staff attorney Jim Pew explains that so much mercury can do a lot of damage.

"Less than a teaspoon is enough to contaminate a 20-acre lake to the point where that lake is not safe to eat fish from, so 800 pounds is a remarkable amount - especially given that Ohio has other sources of mercury, as well."

Among the states, Ohio ranks second for boiler emissions of mercury and first for lead and chromium emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing tighter boiler air-pollution standards that will bring industrial plants into Clean Air Act compliance, like other power plants. Some in the industry fear the planned federal rules could slow economic growth.

Rachel Belz grew up in Nebraska. Shortly after moving to Cincinnati, she developed asthma, allergies and significant sinus problems. She lived near Cognis Oleochemicals, the Ohio plant rated 10th-highest in emissions by the report. She says the pollutants from it and the many other coal-fired power plants in the area contributed to her health problems.

"When you are spending time indoors because you're not supposed to be outside on a bad summer day when it's smoggy and you've got all these pollutants in the air, like the soot that we have in Cincinnati, it really does change your life. When you have to stop and think about your breathing, it really does change how you live."

Pew says the tighter boiler rules will reduce mercury and fine-particulate emissions or soot by more than 90 percent. The EPA found that the reduction in soot alone would save 8,000 lives a year. Pew says that's a huge benefit for human health and the environment.

"Ohio is probably either the prime beneficiary of those benefits or close to it, because it has so many of these really high-emitting industrial power plants in state."

The report identifies 35 operating industrial power plants in Ohio and the effects of their emissions. It is available at http://tinyurl.com/78ngj9a.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH