The mercury in Phoenix has been soaring in recent years, reaching as high as 16 parts per billion, which is about 30 times higher than the threshold for health advisories, according to data compiled by The Washington Posts.
Mercury is the toxic component in lead, arsenic and copper.
Mercury can cause permanent brain damage, death and kidney failure.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns people to avoid drinking water, contact with food and pets and breathing in toxic fumes.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Bryant announced Thursday that his city is closing all restaurants, bars, hotels and businesses by Dec. 1, the first step in what is expected to be a nationwide shutdown.
“This is a time of great uncertainty and uncertainty for everyone,” Bryant said in a statement.
“We have the resources and capacity to deal with this situation, and we will.
We have the tools and the ability to put an end to the contamination and the damage to our environment.”
The shutdowns are expected to last about two weeks, and there is a potential for a nationwide blackout by the end of the year, the CDC says.
The city has been working on a plan to cut the mercury concentration in the air, but Bryant said that will not be possible unless a plan is put in place to prevent the release of other toxic chemicals into the air.
Bryant also said that the city has hired a public health advisory committee to help implement the plan, including the use of a combination of chemicals and robots to monitor the mercury in the water supply and the air supply.
Bryant, a Democrat, announced the measures during a news conference.
Bryant said the city will be using a combination to help manage the situation, including buying more pollution-control equipment.
The mercury levels in the Phoenix area are also higher than that in cities in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Philadelphia.
The EPA says the levels of mercury in some parts of the country are up to four times higher, and the level in Phoenix is nearly eight times higher.
“The mercury levels we see in Phoenix are a national health emergency and we must act now to prevent further mercury contamination,” Bryant wrote.
“As the mercury levels have been rising, we have had to deal on multiple fronts with the federal, state and local governments to mitigate the impacts.”
He said the mercury readings in Phoenix were “not a normal situation” and the city was working with federal and local agencies to develop plans for cleanup.
He said that if the mercury level in the city continues to rise, “the mercury levels will continue to rise.”
Bryant said there is no reason to expect a nationwide emergency.
The mayor also announced that the mayor of New York’s borough of Queens, which includes Queens, will be closing its beaches on Friday and will suspend beach closures for at least two weeks.
Bryant did not provide a timeline for the closures.
The announcement comes a week after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York would phase out its use of coal-fired power plants by 2022.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also announced a plan for coal-burning power plants to be shut down by the middle of next year, though the plan has not yet been finalized.
Bryant told reporters Thursday that the state will need to work with the EPA to determine how the coal industry can be regulated.
“In a state as small as ours, with a population of just under 20 million people, we can’t afford to have a lot of people breathing in dangerous air and having to live with this contamination,” he said.
The New York governor also announced an environmental advisory committee that will look into how to limit the amount of mercury that enters the environment.