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E-M:/ Air Toxics in the Great Lakes



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Subject: Air toxics in the Great Lakes...our News Release

Sierra Club         
National Wildlife Federation 
Conservation News

     
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:             CONTACT:
July 8, 1997                       Cam Davis, NWF, 313-769-3351
                                   Brett Hulsey, Sierra Club,
                                        608-257-4994
      

                   EPA Issues Air Toxic Pollution Report:
          Dangerous Toxics in the Northern and Great Lakes,
                  NWF And Sierra Club Call For Real Action
                                                

Washington, July 8 -- If it's in our air, then it's in our water
too.  The release of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA)
report to Congress on airborne toxics falling into the nation's
"Great Waters, " including the northern and Great Lakes, proves
that stronger action must be taken to stop poisonous pollution,
according to two of the nation's leading conservation
organizations.
      
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Sierra Club are
criticizing the EPA for telling Congress that it wants to wait,
rather than take immediate tough action to solve the problem of
airborne pollution in northern and the Great Lakes.  The two
organizations point to data in the current report which show that
airborne pollution in the Great Lakes and inland lakes is still a
significant, if not the largest water pollution problem.
      
"EPA has made a decision that will mean that toxic air pollution
continues to contaminate our nation's  Great Waters, including
Lake Michigan and Superior. Airborne toxics such as lead,
mercury, arsenic, nitrogen, and PCBs are falling into these lakes
and now make up 50-95% of all the toxic pollution entering our
lakes," said Wayne Schmidt, Director of NWF's  Great Lakes
Natural Resource Center.   "We know that if we allow toxic air
pollution, we will suffer from toxic water pollution.  Pollution
from industry and coal-burning power plants goes up 
                              MORE
Air pollution fouls water, Page Two

smokestacks into the sky and comes down in rain and snow,
poisoning our lakes, rivers and coastal areas."
      
Recently proposed EPA air quality standards directly address only
soot and smog.  They do not adequately deal with dangerous toxics
such as mercury, arsenic, dioxin, and lead.  However, EPA's Great
Waters report concludes that no additional standards or
regulations are necessary at this time.  NWF and the Sierra Club
strongly criticize this conclusion and are calling on the EPA to
develop measures which directly control and prevent toxic air
pollution now.
      
"The Sierra Club is calling on President Clinton, Vice-President
Gore, and the EPA to provide the same strong leadership to clean
up toxic air pollution that they displayed by strengthening the
soot and smog rules," said Kathryn Hohmann, Director of
Environmental Quality for the Sierra Club. "It is time for them
to clean up toxic pollution from steel mills, incinerators, and
power plants to protect our air and our families."
      
"We must remember that the Great Waters examined in this report
are target studies  that show that what goes up into the air must
come down into the water, said NWF's Schmidt.  "Airborne toxic
pollution can travel hundreds of miles from its source.  What's
happening to these Great Waters is also happening to many other
bodies of water that haven't specifically been included in this
study."
      
The EPA report shows that in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes
region, over 12,000 lakes are polluted by mercury which comes
from coal-burning for electricity and incinerators.  The report
showed a cancer risk as high as 1-in-22 for people who eat Great
Lakes fish, almost 5000 times greater than EPA considers safe.
                           MORE      



Air pollution fouls water, Page Three

"The people of the Midwest depend on these lakes for drinking
water, tourism, commercial fishing, subsistence fishing, and a
host of  recreational pursuits," said Brett Hulsey, Sierra Club
Great Lakes Program Director. "We want EPA to protect the health
of all citizens as they enjoy our lakes.  We hope the EPA will
recognize its obligations under the law and issue the necessary
regulations to protect our health."
      
The pollutants poisoning our lakes come from a variety of
sources, including automobile exhaust; incinerators; power
plants; dry cleaners; steel mills, aluminum and iron
manufacturing; copper and lead smelting; chemical manufacturing;
pulp and paper production and petroleum refineries.
      
In July 1996 the National Wildlife Federation released a report,
"Dirty Air, Dirty Water: Air Pollution Spoils America's Great
Waters,"  which used the EPA's own data and research to show that
airborne toxics are a major source of water pollution in the
Great Waters.  For example:
      
     95% of the lead that pollutes many of the Great Lakes comes
     directly from air pollution.
      
     Up to 40% of the nitrogen that taints Chesapeake Bay each
     year results from airborne pollution, mostly from tailpipe
     emissions.
      
     90% of the mercury that poisons Lake Superior each year is
     atmospheric, much of which comes from coal-burning power
     plants. 
          
     Up to 58% of the PCBs now entering Lake Michigan comes from
     the air. 
      
Children, including those yet to be born, are among those most
susceptible to the health effects caused by toxic air pollutants. 
 Documented child and adult health problems resulting from
exposure to mercury, lead, PCBs, and other toxic pollutants
include cancer, kidney and liver poisoning, respiratory problems,
nerve damage and nervous system deficits, reproductive illnesses,
and developmental disorders.
      
Copies of the July 1996 report, "Dirty Air, Dirty Water" are
available upon request.  Contact Jim Irwin, 703-790-4083 or
e-mail: irwinj@nwf.org.
      
The nation's largest member-supported conservation group, the
National Wildlife Federation unites people from all walks of life
to protect nature, wildlife, and the world we all share.  NWF has
educated and inspired families to uphold America's conservation
tradition since 1936.  Its common-sense approach to environmental
protection brings individuals, organizations, and governments
together to ensure a brighter future for people and wildlife.
      
The Sierra Club has 65 local chapters working to educate the
public on how to protect our environment, our families, and our
future.  
                             - 30 - 



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