Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston
International Health Issues connected to Coal
The dangers to health posed by coal are not only caused by the burning of coal, but also by its extraction and transport. Coal used by the proposed power station would be bought in from many countries, on the commodities market. Thus what may seem like a purely local issue is actually a major Global Issue.
Douglasdale Coal Health Study (Scotland)
This preliminary report was compiled by Kirstie Stramler, Ph.D. In it, simple analyses performed on publicly available data reveal striking ill-health in people who reside near the Douglas and Dalmellington open-cast coal mines, as compared with aggregated UK health statistics and with a nearby Scottish town upwind from the mines.
Photo credit: Lindsay Addison
Conclusion: The preliminary analysis of disease incidence and mortality indicates that there are significant differences between the baseline health statistics at Prestwick and those in areas, such as Douglasdale and Dalmellington, in which there are open-cast coal mines.
The discrepancy between the low rate of death from cancer that the inhabitants of the greater Clydesdale area exhibit and the high rate of death from cancer in the Douglasdale sub-region of Clydesdale is particularly troubling, as there is little to differentiate these populations from one another, apart from the coal-mining activities.Douglasdale Community Coal Health Study (pdf)
Updated version As above, but contains newly updated information and graphics
See also the Coal Health Study Blog
Coal dust can irritate the sensitive tissues of the lung and lead to the development of several diseases. The Most well known is a condition called pneumoconiosis, which is the name given to a group of lung diseases caused by the inhalation and retention of dust of various sorts. It's also called industrial dust disease. In miners, coal dust is to blame and the condition is also known as black lung disease or anthrosilicosis.
(Emphysema and chronic bronchitis also covered)Miners' lung disease
The Guardian/Observer Online
One of the world's foremost climate experts launches an excoriating attack on Britain's long love affair with the most polluting fossil fuel of allCoal-fired power stations are death factories.
UK Department of Energy and Climage Change
DECC administers two major personal injury compensation schemes, which compensate coalminers and their families for health problems caused by working underground in mines operated by British Coal.
The schemes were set up to deal with:
respiratory disease (chronic bronchitis and emphysema) resulting from the dusty conditions
vibration disease (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome and Vibration White Finger) caused by using vibrating tools
The schemes are now closed to new claimants.Background to UK coal health litigation
Connection between coal mining and respiratory disease.
Connection between coal mining and Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Linked list of publications dealing with coal health compensaton in the UK
Coal health statistics - Headline statistics as at 19 June 2011
|Total Compensation paid||£2.37 billion|
VWF (vibration white finger)
|Total Compensation paid||£1.7 billion|
Coal is an organic, combustible sedimentary rock that also contains minerals and inorganic material, within the organic matter. The compressed organic matter laid down in typically saline inland sea basins or swamps millions of years ago, is interspersed with finely weathered rock material, known as shale. The heaviest metals accumulate in the coal and shale strata because their densities and electronic charge mean they tend to concentrate in depositional environments. Coal and coal shales therefore concentrate and accumulate the heaviest of metals, amongst other elements, most of which are bio-toxic and some of which are also radioactive.Coal is toxic
Past and present employees of Port Waratah Coal Services' Kooragang Island terminal in the Hunter are up to two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the NSW and Australian populations, or colleagues based at Carrington in Newcastle, a study has found.Kooragang coal workers face increased cancer risk: study 20 July, 2012.
Medical Journal of Australia
Summary of study:
Australia’s coal conundrum is that all political parties say they are concerned about climate change while sanctioning an unprecedented expansion of coalmining and coal seam gas extraction in Australia.
Australia’s coal contributes to climate change and its global health impacts.
Each phase of coal’s lifecycle (mining, disposal of contaminated water and tailings, transportation, washing, combustion, and disposing of postcombustion wastes) produces pollutants that affect human health.
Communities in which coalmining or burning occurs have been shown to suffer significant health impacts.
The health and climate costs of coal are unseen, and when costs to health systems are included, coal is an expensive fuel.
Wide Bay Greens (Australia)
“33% of children get asthma 1 mile from an opencast (proved by peakflow measurements etc).
At 2 miles, 21% of children developed asthma and 12% at 3 miles. ”
According to Hendryx, as coal production increases, so does the incidence of chronic illness. Coal-processing chemicals, equipment powered by diesel engines, explosives, toxic impurities in coals, and even dust from uncovered coal trucks can cause environmental pollution that could have a negative affect on public health.
The data show that people in coal mining communities
have a 70%t increased risk for developing kidney disease.
have a 64% increased risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) such as emphysema.
are 30% more likely to report high blood pressure (hypertension).
Clean Air Alliance
Burning coal produces smog and harms our health. The Ontario Medical Association estimates that air pollution costs Ontario more than $10 billion per year in health care costs, lost work time and other quantifiable expenses, as well as killing an estimated 2,000 Ontarians each year.Coal Power must go
Beijing's appalling air pollution exposed by NASA satellites
Satellite images released by NASA reveal the full and appalling extent of the air pollution which afflicting large swathes of north-eastern China.
Image courtesy of NASA - taken 14th January 2013
Residents of Beijing and many other cities in China were warned to stay inside in mid-January 2013 as the nation faced one of the worst periods of air quality in recent history. The Chinese government ordered factories to scale back emissions, while hospitals saw spikes of more than 20 to 30 percent in patients complaining of respiratory issues, according to news reports.
The image shows extensive haze, low clouds, and fog over the region. The brightest areas tend to be clouds or fog, which have a tinge of gray or yellow from the air pollution. Other cloud-free areas have a pall of gray and brown smog that mostly blots out the cities below
At the time that the January 14 image was taken by satellite, ground-based sensors at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported PM2.5 measurements of 291 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Fine, airborne particulate matter (PM) that is smaller than 2.5 microns is considered dangerous because it is small enough to enter the passages of the human lungs. Most PM2.5 aerosol particles come from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass. The World Health Organization considers PM2.5 to be safe when it is below 25.
Also at the time of the image, the air quality index (AQI) in Beijing was 341. An AQI above 300 is considered hazardous to all humans, not just those with heart or lung ailments. AQI below 50 is considered good. On January 12, the peak of the current air crisis, AQI was 775 the U.S Embassy Beijing Air Quality Monitor—off the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scale—and PM2.5 was 886 micrograms per cubic meter.
Much of China's air pollution is the result of the country's heavy dependence upon coal to power its breakneck economic development. China is currently the world's number one importer of the solid fossil fuel.NASA 16th January, 2013
Coal drive will not end health risks
A new report (Aug 2010) says huge rates of coal consumption were a factor behind an increase in cancer and birth defects as well as non-specific and chronic nervous, immune and respiratory illnesses.
The report said huge rates of coal consumption were a factor behind an increase in cancer and birth defects as well as non-specific and chronic nervous, immune and respiratory illnesses.
Coal Is Linked to Cancer in Yunnan Province
Nonsmoking women in an area of China’s Yunnan province die of lung cancer at a rate 20 times that of their counterparts in other regions of the country — and higher than anywhere else in the world.
A group of scientists now say they have a possible explanation: the burning of coal formed during volcanic eruptions hundreds of millions of years ago.
Coal in that part of China contains high concentrations of silica, a suspected carcinogen, the scientists reported in a recent edition of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Children and coal don't mix
Children born after the closure of a coal-burning plant in China had 60 percent fewer developmental problems, a study released Monday suggests, giving ammunition to those who argue the country should embrace cleaner sources of energy.
The study in the peer-reviewed Environmental Health Perspectives journal found that after the coal plant was shut in the midwestern city of Tongliang, pregnant mothers living in the area had far less exposure to pollutants and their children showed significantly fewer delays in developing motor skills such as muscle coordination by the age of 2.
It is estimated that a total of 57,000 coal miners in China suffer from pneumoconiosis, an occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of dust, each year and more than 6,000 people die due to pneumoconiosis.57,000 Chinese coal miners suffer from lung disease annually Source: People's Daily, Nov 2010
The Guardian/Observer Online
Observer investigation uncovers link between dramatic rise in birth defects in Punjab and pollution from coal-fired power stationIndia's generation of children crippled by uranium waste
KEMA Power generation and Sustainables
Employees of coal-fired power stations and people living enarby, as well as those involved in the shipment and processing of coal fly ash can be exposed to pulverised fuel ash (PVA). an extensive research program was carried out in order to ma such exposure and its effects. Particle size distribution, chemical composition, quartz, radioactivity, emission factors and fugitive dust modelling were studied.Health aspects of coal fly ash (pdf)
Alaska Community Action on Toxics
In Alaska, coal‐fired power plants generate tens of thousands of metric tons of waste each year, known as coal combustion wastes, of which a major component is coal ash. Coal ash throughout the nation has been found to contain concerning levels of toxic chemicals that pose serious risks to human health. ...
... At the request of local residents concerned about coal ash contamination, a sampling project was conducted in the Fairbanks area in June 2010. This project aimed to determine the composition of coal ash in the Fairbanks region and whether it may be hazardous to health. Samples of coal ash from local power plants, waste disposal sites and reuse sites were found to contain a range of toxic heavy metals. In almost every case, the levels of toxic chemicals were found to be much higher than background soil samples from Fairbanks. In the coal ash samples, levels of arsenic and vanadium were found at concentrations that may harm human health. Two samples from the University of Alaska Fairbanks coal‐fired power plant show arsenic concentrations more than 100 times higher than the standard for residential soils set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lastly, mercury was found at levels 70 times higher than background soils, and at levels high enough to be a concern if inhaled in the form of windblown dust.Coal Ash in Alaska: Our Health, Our Right to Know (pdf)
American Journal of Public Health
Abstract of study: Health-Related Quality of Life Among Central Appalachian Residents in Mountaintop Mining Counties
Objectives. We examined the health-related quality of life of residents in mountaintop mining counties of Appalachia using the 2006 national Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
Methods. Dependent variables included self-rated health; the number of poor physical, poor mental, and activity limitation days (in the past 30 days); and the Healthy Days Index. Independent variables included metropolitan status, primary care physician supply, and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System behavioral and demographic variables. We compared dependent variables across 3 categories: mountaintop mining (yes or no), other coal mining (yes or no), and a referent nonmining group. We used SUDAAN MULTILOG and multiple linear regression models with post hoc least squares means to test mountaintop mining effects after adjusting for covariates.
Results. Residents of mountaintop mining counties reported significantly more days of poor physical, mental, and activity limitation and poorer self-rated health (P < .01) compared with the other county groupings. Results were generally consistent in separate analyses by gender and age.
Conclusions. Mountaintop mining areas are associated with the greatest reductions in health-related quality of life even when compared with counties with other forms of coal mining.
Chesapeake Bay News
Apparently-cheap electricity from coal-fired power plants is at least twice as expensive as it seems when the costs of illness and death from air pollution are factored in, according to a new Chesapeake Bay Foundation report. These billions of dollars in health-related costs from coal pollution, if accounted for, would make clean energy, from wind and solar power, more economically competitive.How Coal-Fired Power Plants Drain Health and Wealth
Clean Air Task Force
Among all industrial sources of air pollution, none poses greater risks to human health and the environment than coal-fired power plants. Emissions from coalfired power plants contribute to global warming, ozone smog, acid rain, regional haze, and — perhaps most consequential of all from a public health standpoint — fine particle pollution.The Toll from Coal (pdf)
Columbia University: Mailman School of Public Health
Closure of Coal-Burning Power Plant in China Directly Linked to Improved Cognitive Development in ChildrenStudy Shows Benefits of Closing Plants on Early Childhood Neurodevelopment
“Should named politicians who pass unsafe applications be forced to compensate? ”
Dr Dick van Steenis MB BS
Thirteen years of peer-reviewed research into industrial air pollution (including opencasting) with its consequential health damage of illness and premature deaths.Coal opencasting and health
Dr Robert Bullard
Coal is cheap. Coal is also dirty and pollutes when it is mined, transported to the power plant, stored, and burned. Coal causes smog, soot, acid rain, global warming, and toxic air emissions.The so-called “clean coal” is more myth and PR than reality. The 2004 Dirty Air, Dirty Power report revealed some shocking health impacts of air pollution from power plants: mortality (23.600), hospital admissions (21,850), emergency room visits for asthma (26,000) heart attacks (38,200), chronic bronchitis (16,200) asthma attacks (554,000), and lost work days (3,186,000).Health Benefits of Dethroning King Coal
Environmental Defense Fund
In addition to the environmental and human health harm caused by greenhouse gas emissions, coal-fired power plants emit massive amounts of toxic air pollutants that result in significant numbers of deaths and disease.Estimating the Health Impacts of Coal-Fired Power Plants (pdf)
If we needed another reason to be concerned about our heavy reliance on “cheap” coal for energy, we could find all we wanted in a recently released report from a team at the Harvard Medical School. “Full Cost Accounting for the Life Cycle of Coal” catalogues virtually all the ways coal affects society, from fires in abandoned mines that burn for decades to the tourism implications of the environmentally devastating mining practice of “mountaintop removal.”
Harvard’s overall price tag for coal? Up to $500 billion. But what really got our attention was the $140 billion to $242 billion cost the report attached to its public health effects.
Kami Miller's heart flutters irregularly, she needs an inhaler to breathe and she's been diagnosed with thyroid problems. Even more troubling, her 12-year-old son already has the same health woes.
For the Miller family, there is little doubt why they and their fellow tribe members living on the tiny Moapa Band of Paiutes reservation outside Las Vegas are struggling with a litany of medical problems. Steps away from their front doors, a 50-year-old, coal-burning power plant churns out a blanket of white and yellow smoke that hangs over their reservation and obscures the mountain views their people have long admired.
Recent efforts championed by the coal industry depict environmental policies that demand cleaner coal plants as unnecessarily burdensome to Americans who may have to pay more for electricity. But the multiple billions of dollars of health care costs that are incurred every year due to dirty coal far exceed any cost increases we might see in our electric bills.
Coal mining itself is fundamentally hazardous to health, causing respiratory diseases in miners and polluting the environment around coal mining operations. Soil, water and air are polluted in the process of mining, and millions of tons of toxins are released into the environment. This affects anybody who eats food, breathes air, or drinks water.