CONCH - Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston

> Health Issues

Coal damages the respiratory, cardiovascular, and
nervous systems through pollutants
acting directly
on the body.

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Black Lung -

Coalworker's pneumoconiosis

Coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP), colloquially referred to as Black Lung Disease, is caused by long exposure to coal dust. It is a common affliction of coal miners and others who work with coal. Inhaled coal dust progressively builds up in the lungs and is unable to be removed by the body; that leads to inflammation, fibrosis, and in the worst case, necrosis.


List of Published Coal Health Studies

Coal Action Scotland

32,000 life years would be robbed every year if the coal-fired power plants currently under construction or in planning go into operation. This loss of life is entirely unnecessary, as renewable energy and the latest cutting-edge energy-efficient solutions enable us to keep Europe's lights on.


Most recent additions marked Red Flag   Page updated 22nd August 2013

Communities Opposed to New Coal at Hunterston

International Health Issues connected to Coal 2013

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 have been bought in from many countries, on the commodities market.

See also Human Rights, Environment, Coal Mining Accidents and general Links pages.

Older links to reports from around the world on the effects of coal or coal power stations on health have been moved to the Health Archive Page.

Red Flag EU

How is coal pollution making us sick? A new report launched on 7 March 2013 by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) aims to provide an overview of the scientific evidence of how air pollution impacts health and how emissions from coal power plants are implicated in this. It presents the first-ever economic assessment of the health costs associated with air pollution from coal power plants in Europe as well as testimonies from leading health advocates, medical experts and policy makers on why they are concerned about coal.

The report develops recommendations for policy-makers and the health community on how to address the unpaid health bill and ensure that it is taken into account in future energy decisions.

Full report
Executive Summary

A report claims that particulate pollution from coal-fired power plants in the EU results in thousands of premature deaths each year. Coal power plants are among the worst sources of toxic air pollution in the EU and are responsible for 22,000 premature deaths a year, according to Greenpeace.

The research found that the worst offenders among EU countries are Poland, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and the UK. In countries with heavy coal use, the report claims that more people are killed by coal than in traffic accidents.

Coal power plants are silent killers.

Red Flag Australia

The Australian government needs to do more to monitor air quality and consider potential health impacts such as asthma and emphysema when approving new coalmines.

A Senate report recommends that real-time data on air quality should be provided before any new mine development, and that trains carrying coal should be covered, to ensure that coaldust doesn’t escape and potentially cause respiratory and other problems in nearby residents. It also called on the government to assess the cumulative health impact of nearby coalmines before approving new mines and supported calls for “buffer zones” around houses.

Particles released from coalmining have been blamed for a number of human diseases, including asthma, emphysema, heart disease and stroke.

Impacts on health of air quality in Australia - coal

Red FlagCanada

There is a growing awareness of the price that society pays for generating electricity from coal, both in terms of climate change and health impacts. Some of these costs are starting to be applied to existing plants as mercury capture requirements increase and to newer plants as stricter air NOx and SO2 requirements are implemented. However, air pollutants and greenhouse emissions from Alberta's sizeable existing fleet are not fully internalized.

A Costly Diagnosis - Subsidizing coal power with Albertans' health

Red FlagChina

Beijing and the Jingjinji region have a major air pollution problem that reached emergency proportions in winter 2012-2013. One of the key contributors to the problem is the very large amount of coal burning in the region, and power generation is the region’s biggest coal-burning sector.

The power sector consumes over one third of all coal in the Jingjinji region, and is responsible for over one third of industrial SO2 and NOx emissions. However, if all coal-burning sectors were included in the impact estimates, the results would be even larger: about 32% of coal consumption in Hebei is for power generation. This further emphasizes the need for regional level action.

The health impact from coal power plants in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei

Life expectancy in northern China was 5.5 years shorter than in southern China in the 1990s, and a health risk disparity lingers today, a difference almost entirely due to heart and lung disease related to air pollution from the burning of coal, a new study shows.

The research, published on 8th July 2013, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), not only adds to the large body of evidence on the risks of small particle pollution, it provides the most precise measure yet of the health impact of smoke from combustion.

Coal-Burning Shortens Lives in China, New Study Shows

Red Flag USA

Although abundant here, Alaskans do not rely on coal as a primary fuel source. Here in Alaska, we are increasingly looking for cleaner sources of energy to supplement or replace fossil fuels. While there is increasing pressure to develop coal for foreign export and domestic use, coal is dirty. Coal exploration and development threatens human health, and our land, air, water and food, with hazardous emissions possible at every stage.

Coal is dirty and deadly. Pollutants from coal adversely affect all major organ systems in the human body and contribute to four of the five leading causes of death in the United States. At every stage – from mining, transportation, storage, combustion, and disposal of post-combustion wastes – coal development is a threat to human and environmental health.

Health Threats of Coal Development


Al Gore - "Clean Coal is like healthy cigarettes"

Emissions from coal power plants in Europe contribute significantly to the burden of disease from environmental
pollution. European Union-wide impacts amount to more
than 18,200 premature deaths, about 8,500 new cases of chronic bronchitis, and over 4 million lost working days
each year. The economic costs of the health impacts from coal combustion in Europe are c€42.8
billion per year. Adding emissions from coal power plants in Croatia, Serbia & Turkey, the figures for mortality
increase to 23,300 premature deaths, or 250,600 life years lost, while the total costs are up to €54.7 billion annually.
These costs are mainly associated with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, two important groups
of leading chronic diseases in Europe.

Health and Environment Alliance