New Study Links Power Plant Pollution To More Than 300 Houston Heart Attacks, 200 Houston Deaths Per Year

Interactive Web Site Shows Health Impacts of Power Plants on Houston Residents

HOUSTON—Pollution from coal-fired power plants causes 6,915 asthma attacks, 334 non-fatal heart attacks, and 203 premature deaths each year in Houston, according to a new Clear the Air report released today by the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG). Nationally, power plant pollution cuts short nearly 24,000 lives, including 2,800 from lung cancer, and causes 38,200 heart attacks each year.

"Dirty Air, Dirty Power" is based on an analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's own air quality consultants using standard EPA methodology.

Clear the Air also launched, a related interactive Web site that enables the public to learn about the health problems caused by power plants in their town, city, and state. 

The report compares the premature deaths that would result under the Bush administration's air pollution plan, the existing Clean Air Act, and a proposal sponsored by Senator Jim Jeffords to strengthen the Clean Air Act. The Administration's proposal would allow 4,000 preventable premature deaths each year compared with simply enforcing current law, while repealing the very safeguards that could save those lives.

"The results are staggering," said Clear the Air Director Angela Ledford. "The Bush administration knows how to solve this problem. But instead of simply enforcing the law, they are allowing the polluters to rewrite the rules, weaken current law, and pass it off as progress."

The report's interactive Web site allows Texas residents to graphically see how local power plants contribute to death and disease, including premature deaths from lung cancer and other cardiovascular diseases, nonfatal heart attacks, asthma attacks, emergency room visits for respiratory problems, and lost work days. Residents can also view how the numbers of premature deaths caused by air pollution vary under the Bush administration's plan, current law, and Senator Jeffords' bipartisan proposal to strengthen the Clean Air Act.

"We have to substantially reduce the adverse health impacts caused by these dirty power plants," said Luke Metzger, TexPIRG Advocate. "This new Web site helps us cut through the spin, lets us see how our pollution-related numbers stack up to other states, and shows us how the Bush administration's dirty air plan will really affect public health."

"The Administration's failure has resulted in too many asthma attacks, too many scary emergency room visits, too many lost school and work days, and too many lives cut short," said Rebecca Jensen with the Baylor College of Medicine's Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Research Center. "If ever there was a time to stand up and demand action, it is now."

"The Houston area has earned a reputation for its poor air quality and bright, young professionals are reluctant to move here for that reason," said Jane Laping with Mothers for Clean Air. "What parent wants to have to tell their kids they can't go outside to play because the air isn't healthy for them to breathe?""

Abt Associates, the consultant EPA uses for its air quality analyses, performed the analyses for this report using standard EPA methodology.