Glossary of dangerous pollutants emitted by coal-fired power plants

November 19, 2008 

The most common dangerous pollutants emitted by coal-fired power plants are:

Mercury — A deadly poison. Even tiny amounts, undiluted, can kill.

CO2 — Carbon dioxide. A major heat-trapping greenhouse gas blamed for climate change.

NO2 — Nitrogen dioxide. A greenhouse gas. Contributes to smog, acid rain and water pollution. Causes breathing problems.

PPM — Particulate matter. Tiny particles that trigger lung and heart problems.

SO2 — Sulfur dioxide. Helps form acid rain, water pollution. Damages crops, animals. Causes lung problems.

MW stands for megawatts. Power plants traditionally measure electric output in megawatts. One megawatt can power up to a half-million homes and perhaps several hundred businesses, depending on their size.

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