The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed measures to reduce water pollution in areas near power plants. Facilities would be required to install new pollution control measures through 2022.
EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said the agency was waiting for industry response but said less than half of the 500 or so coal-fired plants in the United States would be directly affected because of technology already in place.
"Reducing the pollution of our waters through effective but flexible controls such as we are proposing today is a win-win for our public health and our economic vitality," he said in a statement.
APHA Executive Director Dr. Georges Benjamin said pollutants tied to the power sector, like heavy metals, are a direct threat to human health.
"Keeping our water safe and clean is critical to ensuring the health of our people and communities," he said. "Toxic heavy metals have no place in our drinking water or on our dinner plate."
The EPA's proposal would set federal limits on pollutants like lead and mercury that are discharged from power plants. Some heavy metals are toxic to the nervous system and may cause cancer.