The Environmental Protection Agency has imposed new standards for mercury, lead and other toxic pollutants that are discharged into the nation's rivers and streams from steam electric power plants.
The pollutants can cause neurological damage in children, lead to cancer and damage the circulatory system, kidneys and livers.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the rules, the first national limits on pollutants from steam electricity plants, will provide significant protections for children and communities across the country from exposure to pollutants that can cause serious health problems.
The rule will remove 1.4 billion pounds a year of toxic discharge nationwide.
The EPA said most of the nation's 1,080 steam electric power plants already meet the requirements. About 12 percent, or 134 plants, will have to make new investments to do so.