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Families at Risk

The E.D. Edwards coal plant in the Peoria metro area has threatened local public health for decades. The state of Illinois currently allows this plant to emit dangerous sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution at levels that would cause 7.5 times the concentration of pollution our federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed safe.

Toxic Pollution Threatens Peorias Kids at their Schools, Parks and Homes
This pollution puts kids and other sensitive populations at risk where they play outside, including public parks, recreation areas and schools in the region, residential areas and parts of Peorias downtown business district. The plume reaches all the way to Morton and Chillicothe. This map shows how far the plants dangerous pollution is allowed to travel and who is at risk.



All shaded areas are above the EPAs one-hour SO2 exposure limits when the Edwards plant pollutes at its permitted levels. 196 300 400 (above limit) (1.5x limit) (2x limit) (2.5x limit) (5.1x limit) (7.5x limit) = SCHOOLS


Proctor Hospital Wildlife Prairie State Park

500 1000 1490


OSF Healthcare System Methodist Medical Center Peoria


Pekin Hospital


2 mi 4 mi 6 mi

SULFUR DIOXIDE POLLUTION Sulfur dioxide or SO2 is a harmful air pollutant. The EPA sets limits on how much can accumulate in our air. Sulfur dioxide triggers asthma attacks, airway constriction, and other respiratory problems.1 Exposure to sulfur dioxide pollution for even five minutes can make it hard for a person to breathe and high levels of SO2 can send people to the emergency room. This is especially dangerous for the 39,000 people who suffer from asthma in Peoria and Tazewell counties. The E.D. Edwards Coal Plant Poses a Threat to Public Health Coal-fired power plants, like the E.D. Edwards plant in Bartonville, are the largest source of sulfur dioxide pollution in the country. Old, dirty, uncontrolled plants like Edwards threaten public health by emitting concentrations of pollution in excess of what the EPA says is safe. The E.D. Edwards coal plant lacks modern pollution controls for SO2 and the plants uncontrolled emissions were analyzed in light of the new, more stringent standard for SO2 that reflects the up-to-date scientific consensus on what levels of SO2 present a risk to nearby communities. Currently, the E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant threatens Peoria and Tazewell county residents with pollution up to 7.5 times the limit that EPA says is required to protect public health. The US EPA has set the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) at 196.2 micrograms/m3, the maximum ambient concentration of SO2 pollution in order to adequately protect public health. The E.D. Edwards coal plant is permitted at rates that result in air pollution concentrations of 1,498 g/m3. The plant poses a significant and urgent health threat to residents particularly children, elderly and asthmatics whose health is most at risk from high levels of SO2 pollution. How was this investigation conducted? Environmental groups hired an air pollution control engineer to gather the publicly available data needed to run an air dispersion model called AERMOD, which uses emissions information, plant characteristics and meteorological data to demonstrate how air pollution disperses from a source, and in what concentrations. The engineer ran the model following EPA procedures for evaluating the impacts of power plant SO2 emissions. This does not reflect the E.D. Edwards plants current air
E.D. Edwards plant in Bartonville

permits extremely lenient 24-hour averaging time for SO2, which allows hourly emissions to spike. How does this relate to the EPA SO2 nonattainment designation for parts of Peoria and Tazewell Counties? Earlier this year, the EPA designated air in Peoria and Tazewell counties as unsafe to breathe, requiring the state to provide a clean-up plan for the areas largest SO2 emitters. The SO2 pollution plume map shows that the reaches of the pollution allowable from the E.D. Edwards plant stretch beyond the EPAs designated non-attainment area, meaning that even more people are at risk. What does the owner of the E.D. Edwards plant need to do to protect public health? Ameren has publicly stated that installing modern pollution controls would not be worth the investment at the E.D. Edwards coal plant. Dynegy, the potential future owner of the plant has no current plan to invest in SO2reducing controls if it acquires the plants, and has asked the state of Illinois for permission to violate state law that would have required emissions reductions across the Ameren fleet. Corporate refusals to invest in cleaning up the Edwards plant just underscore that now is the time to put the Edwards plant on a path toward retirement. The community deserves cleaner air and water and a safer place to recreate and raise children. Ameren and Dynegy must be up-front with the community and establish a clear plan moving forward for the Edwards coal plant that includes a reasonable phase-out date, ensures a just transition for the workers, and a plan to remediate the site.

Is sulfur dioxide the only pollutant of concern? Far from it. The devastation caused by the coal industry from extraction to disposal creates pollution and environmental destruction through the entire life cycle. At Edwards, several pollutants from the plant are a cause for concern: Mercury Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that affects brain development and is particularly dangerous to children, infants, women who plan to have children, nursing mothers and developing fetuses. Coal plants are the number one source of mercury pollution in the nation. One teaspoon of mercury is enough to contaminate a 20-acre lake. The Edwards plant emits more than 200 lbs of mercury each year. NOx The health effects of NOx exposure range from eye, nose and throat irritation at low levels of exposure to serious damage to the tissues of the upper respiratory tract, fluid build-up in the lungs and death at high exposure levels. Ozone- Ozone pollution, also known as smog, is a powerful respiratory irritant that can cause an array of health problems. At low levels of exposure, ozone can cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. At higher concentrations, breathing ozone can lead to more serious effects, including lung tissue damage, reduced lung capacity, asthma exacerbation, as well as increased risk of hospitalization for asthma, bronchitis and other chronic respiratory diseases. Recent studies demonstrate that ozone exposure also may lead to premature death. endnotes

What do Central Illinois residents think? At the beginning of 2013, a coalition of individuals and organizations came together to form the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance (CIHCA) out of concern over the decades of pollution from the Edwards coal plant. CIHCA is committed to creating a sustainable and healthy community for Central Illinois. CIHCA is working to retire the Edwards plant and transition Central Illinois to a cleaner energy economy by reducing energy use, and moving to renewables like wind and solar. The Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance members include League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria, NAACP Peoria Branch, Sierra Club Heart of Illinois Group, Central Illinois Chapter of the Interfaith Alliance, Global Warming Solutions, Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste, Respiratory Health Association, Prairie Rivers Network, and ICC Student Association for the Environment. What can our community do? Educate your family, friends, and community leaders and let them know why you value clean air and water and want to see Central Illinois move away from fossil fuels Write a letter to the Peoria Journal Star or Pekin Times Visit our website at for more information and ways to get involved Stay up to date on meetings and events by liking our Facebook page at

1 Environmental Protection Agency:

Sierra Club National 85 Second Street, 2nd Floor San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 977-5500

Sierra Club Legislative 50 F Street, NW, Eighth Floor Washington, DC 20001 (202) 547-1141

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