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Green Power: Public Health Benefits

Green power protects public health by preventing pollution from entering our air, water and food. The more electricity we can generate from clean, sustainable sources, the less coal, oil, gas and uranium we must use.

Asthma, Lung and Heart Disease

Power plants that burn coal, oil or natural gas contribute to many health problems. Power plants emit nitrogen oxides, which significantly contribute to the creation of ground-level ozone. This "bad" ozone makes it harder for many people to breathe on "ozone alert" days. Traditional power plants also emit fine particulates that are increasingly known to trigger respiratory emergencies, heart disease and heart attacks.

Mercury Contamination

The heavy metal mercury emitted by coal-burning power plants adversely affects children and pregnant women, even those who live great distances from the power plants themselves. Initially transported via the wind then precipitating back to earth in rain, mercury enters the food chain, becoming concentrated in the tissues of both fresh- and saltwater specifics of Maine fish, such as brook, brown and lake trout, and especially perch, smallmouth bass and pickerel.

Maine lakes have been under fish consumption advisories for many years, due in significant part to mercury contamination. Children born to mothers with high levels of mercury in their blood have been shown to score lower on brain function tests and to start walking at a later age than normal children.

Other Risks: Radiation, Extraction & Transportation

Nuclear power plants also create significant health risks due to the constant production of radioactive waste, which must either be stored on site or transported across the country for disposal. The health consequences of an accidental or intentional nuclear power plant explosion would be catastrophic. In addition, the constant need to extract, refine and transport fuels such as uranium and petroleum undermines the health and well being of people in nearby communities.

Generating electricity from cleaner sources prevents both upstream and downstream pollution at their sources, improving and safeguarding public health.

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