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  Control of Mercury Emissions from Coal Fired Electric Utility Boilers: An Update (EPA/600/R-10/006) February 2010

Coal-fired power plants in the U.S. are known to be the major anthropogenic source of domestic mercury emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently proposed to reduce emissions of mercury from these plants. In March 2005, EPA plans to promulgate final regulations to reduce emissions of mercury from coal-fired power plants. To help inform this regulatory effort, a White Paper on the status of mercury control technologies for electric utility boilers was released in February 2004 by EPA’s Office of Research & Development. Subsequently, much new information has become available on these technologies. This White Paper has been prepared to document the current status of mercury controls and help inform the upcoming regulatory action. As will be discussed, control of mercury emissions from coal-fired boilers is currently achieved via existing controls used to remove particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOX). This includes capture of particulate-bound mercury in PM control equipment and soluble mercury compounds in wet flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems. Available data also show that use of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) NOX control enhances the concentration of soluble mercury compounds in flue gas from some coal-fired boilers and results in increased mercury removal in the downstream wet FGD system. Controls are also under development specifically for the purpose of controlling mercury emissions. This White Paper will focus on the control options that have been, or are currently being, used/tested at power plants.


Ravi Strivastava

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Office of Research & Development | National Risk Management Research Laboratory

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