Jiashuo Li#, Sili Zhou#, Wendong Wei#, Jianchuan Qi, Yumeng Li, Bin Chen, Ning Zhang, Dabo Guan, Haoqi Qian, Xiaohui Wu, Jiawen Miao, Long Chen*, Kuishuang Feng*, Sai Liang*
China's retrofitting measures in coal-fired power plants bring significant mercury-related health benefits
One Earth, Volume 3, Issue 6, 18 December 2020, Pages 777-787
China has implemented retrofitting measures in coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) to reduce air pollution through small unit shutdown, the installation of air pollution control devices (APCDs), and power generation efficiency improvement. The reductions in highly toxic Hg emissions and their related health impacts by these measures remain poorly understood. Here, we evaluated the health benefits of reduced Hg emissions via retrofitting measures during China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–2015) by combining plant-level Hg emission inventories with the China Hg Risk-Source-Tracking Model. We found that the measures reduced Hg emissions by 23.5 tons (approximately 1/5 of that from CFPPs in 2010), preventing 30,484.77 total points of intelligence quotient decrement and 114 deaths between 2011 and 2015. These benefits were dominated by CFPP shutdowns and APCD installations, and nearly 50% of provincial health benefits were attributable to Hg reductions in other regions. We suggest that Hg control strategies should consider various factors, such as CFPP location, population density, and trade-offs between reductions in total Hg and in Hg2+.