EPA Sets National Limits on HAPs from Cement Plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is issuing final rules that will cut emissions of mercury, particle pollution and other harmful pollutants from Portland cement manufacturing, the third largest source of mercury air emissions in the United States.

The rules are expected to yield $7 to $19 in public health benefits for every dollar in costs. Mercury can damage children’s developing brains, and particle pollution is linked to a wide variety of serious health effects, including aggravated asthma, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and premature death in people with heart and lung disease.

This action sets the nation’s first limits on mercury air emissions from existing cement kilns, strengthens the limits for new kilns, and sets emission limits that will reduce acid gases. This final action also limits particle pollution from new and existing kilns, and sets new-kiln limits for particle and smog-forming nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.

When fully implemented in 2013, EPA estimates emissions reductions for the various toxics at:

  • 16,600 pounds or 92 percent for mercury.
  • 10,600 tons or 83 percent for total hydrocarbons.
  • 11,500 tons or 92 percent for particulate matter.
  • 5,800 tons or 97 percent for acid gases (measured as hydrochloric acid).
  • 110,000 tons or 78 percent for sulfur dioxide.
  • 6,600 tons or 5 percent for nitrogen oxides.

EPA estimates that the rules will yield $6.7 billion to $18 billion in health and environmental benefits, with costs estimated at $926 million to $950 million annually in 2013. Another EPA analysis estimates emission reductions and costs will be lower, with costs projected to be $350 million annually.

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