Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Report outlines mercury challenges
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 29, 2006) - The state faces challenges in addressing mercury contamination, such as effectively reaching at-risk populations, according to a report released today. State actions regarding mercury contamination in the commonwealth were released in the report from three state agencies-the cabinets for Environmental and Public Protection (EPPC), Commerce, and Health and Family Services.
The report is a result of an interagency work group that was formed in 2004 to address recommendations from the state’s Environmental Quality Commission.
In addition to collaborating on the report, the agencies have been working together to improve the state’s outreach efforts regarding mercury contamination and sponsoring collection events with other agencies. During events in 2006, the state collected slightly more than 1,000 pounds of elemental mercury and mercury-containing devices.
The primary method of mercury exposure for most people is by eating contaminated fish, including fresh and store-bought fish and canned tuna. The state has an advisory recommending consumption precautions for pregnant women, nursing mothers and their infants, and children. Additional at-risk populations identified in the report include non-English speaking people and citizens who rely on subsistence fishing. Agencies are already implementing programs to address the issue, including development of bilingual educational materials.
The report also highlights federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations aimed at reducing emissions from the nation’s coal-fired electric generating power plants. The 2005 rule represents the first time that mercury emissions have been targeted for reduction from power plants. By 2018, Kentucky will be required to reduce its overall mercury emissions to 0.602 tons per year, a decrease of more than 50 percent. EPA’s rule allows a degree of flexibility among the states. Kentucky’s plan to adopt regulations in response to EPA’s rule will be proposed before the end of the year.
The report is available on the EPPC Web site, http://www.eppc.ky.gov/