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  • Allison Stalker

Pennsylvania in the Top 20 States with Most Toxic Air Pollution

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released an analysis on the toxic pollution from power plants entitled “Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States”. The report was also released by the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). The report found that almost half of all toxic air pollutions in the United States comes from coal and oil fired power plants. Additionally, these power plants are the single largest industrial source of toxic air pollution in 28 states and the District of Columbia.


Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida top the list of states with the most toxic air pollution from the power plants. The data for the report came from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). This database contains toxic emissions from industrial sources that are self-reported by the industry. Various pollutants are reported in the TRI, including mercury, hydrochloric acid and hazardous metals.


This report comes at a time when various members of Congress are pushing to block the EPA’s attempts to update public health protections, including reductions of toxic pollutions from power plants. The EPA has estimated that these new regulations would save up to 17,000 lives per year and prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms.


“Coal pollution is killing Americans,” said Lynn Ringenberg, MD, of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “It is America’s biggest source of toxic air pollution. Air toxics from coal-fired power plants cause cancer, birth defects, and respiratory illness. Just one of those air toxics, mercury, damages the developing brains of fetuses, infants, and small children. It robs our children of healthy neurological development and native intelligence.


The following states make up the top ten with the most toxic air pollution from power plants (from worst to best):


1. Ohio.

2. Pennsylvania.

3. Florida.

4. Kentucky.

5. Maryland.

6. Indiana.

7. Michigan.

8. West Virginia.

9. Georgia.

10. North Carolina.


To learn more about the report, click here.


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