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The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed new regulations Wednesday that officials said would reduce the health risk from mercury emissions.
Up to 90 percent of mercury emissions from 10 coal-fired boilers at power plants in the state would have to be reduced by 2007 under the regulations.
In addition, mercury emissions from iron and steel manufacturing plants would have to drop by 75 percent by 2009, and emissions from municipal solid waste incinerators would have to be 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2011.
DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell said mercury contamination of water and fish is a big health risk in the state. He said the new regulations would reduce annual mercury emissions in New Jersey by 1,500 pounds.
Nationwide, mercury emissions top 48 tons a year. Campbell said if the new regulations were adopted nationwide, mercury emissions would fall to about 5 tons a year.
"New Jersey's largest sources of mercury air pollution must use today's technology wherever possible to protect our children and families from the harm that exposure to mercury causes," Campbell said.
The state issued health advisories to fisherman last year for 21 species of fish because of concerns about mercury contamination.
The regulations are expected to go into effect in two months.