TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan ranks 10th in the volume of mercury released into the air by electric power plants, according to federal statistics released by an environmental group Thursday.
Environment Michigan said Michigan plants emitted 2,253 pounds of mercury in 2010. By far the nation's biggest mercury polluter was Texas, followed by Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In Michigan, the biggest source of airborne mercury was the Detroit Edison Monroe Power Plant, which released 660 pounds. Ranking second and third were two plants in St. Clair County -- Detroit Edison Belle River with 335 pounds and Detroit Edison St. Clair with 236 pounds.
Rounding out the top five were the Detroit Edison Trenton Channel plant in Wayne County with 172 pounds and the J.H. Campbell plant in Ottawa County with 165 pounds.
The numbers came from the Toxics Release Inventory, a database maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It consists of statistics reported by power plants and others that emit air pollution.
Mercury is a powerful toxin that can damage human nervous systems. It is particularly dangerous for children, who can suffer deficits in verbal skills, attention and motor control and lower IQs.
The primary means of mercury exposure is eating contaminated fish. Mercury that falls into lakes and streams can be converted into a form that builds up in fish as it moves up the aquatic food chain.
EPA is expected next month to set limits on emissions of mercury and other toxins from power plants.
"It's time to protect our health and clean up this dangerous source of pollution," said Michelle Hesterberg, a field associate for Environment Michigan.