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U.S. Geological Survey
Fact Sheet 095-01
Online Version 1.0

Mercury in U.S. Coal -- Abundance, Distribution, and Modes of Occurrence

By Susan J. Tewalt, Linda J. Bragg, and Robert B. Finkelman

Coal mine   In February 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a report citing mercury emissions from electric utilities as the largest remaining anthropogenic source of mercury released to the air. EPA officials estimated that about 50 tons of elemental mercury are emitted each year from U.S. coal-burning powerplants, with lesser amounts coming from oil- and gas-burning units. According to EPA estimates, emissions from coal-fired utilities account for 13 to 26 percent of the total (natural plus anthropogenic) airborne emissions of mercury in the United States. On December 14, 2000, the EPA announced that it will require a reduction in mercury emissions from coal-fired powerplants, with regulations proposed by 2003 and final rules for implementation completed by 2004.

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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