North Carolina ranks 8th in the nation for emissions of mercury, a neurotoxin that comes from coal-burning power plants and can cause birth defects.
The federal data was released today by Environment North Carolina, a Raleigh group that's highlighting mercury emissions figures as it pushes for strict controls of the pollutant.
Mercury is classified as a hazardous air pollutant but it is not regulated at the federal level. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose a standard in March. Environment North Carolina is pushing for a 90 percent reduction in nationwide mercury emissions.