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Environment

Toxic Mercury Levels Decline

Emissions of toxic mercury from North Carolina coal-fired power plants have dropped significantly in the last decade.

Jeff Tiberii: In 2002 the General Assembly enacted the Clean Smokestack Act, aimed at cutting emissions. The North Carolina Division of Air Quality says the result is a 70-percent drop in toxic mercury entering the atmosphere. Tom Mather is with the division.

Tom Mather: What happens is when Mercury gets in the air it will eventually settle back down to the earth in rain water, or just in particles. When that mercury ends up in streams, lakes and coastal waters in can accumulate and end up in the food chain.

Mather says additional reductions in mercury emissions are expected over the coming decade due to pending federal regulations on power plants, boilers and other industrial facilities.

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