Following up on our series “Dirty Pictures from Big Coal” (here and here), a new report by the group Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) caught our eye. It’s titled “Coal’s Assault on Human Health,” and gives a dirty picture of coal-fired power’s effect inside our bodies — on the human brain, heart and lungs.
From the PSR Website description:
[The report] takes a new look at the devastating impacts of coal on the human body. Coal combustion releases mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and dozens of other substances known to be hazardous to human health. This report looks at the cumulative harm inflicted by those pollutants on three major body organ systems: the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and the nervous system. The report also considers coal’s contribution to global warming, and the health implications of global warming.
Coal, Energy and Health
To download the full report PSR report, click here.
To download just the Executive Summary, click here.
To go to the PSR Website about the report, click here.
From the report —
- Steps that would prevent further global warming include replacing coal-based generation of electricity with clean, non-fossil fuel energy sources.
- Coal combustion emissions damage the respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems and contribute to four of the top five leading causes of death in the U.S.
- A continued reliance on coal combustion for electricity will contribute to the predicted health consequences of global warming.
- For each TerraWatt hour of electricity generated by coal, 24.5 deaths are expected in addition to 225 serious illnesses and 13,288 minor illnesses.
- Coal mining operations may exacerbate a range of chronic health conditions among people living in nearby communities.
- Increases in the risk of death from respiratory causes, including sudden infant death, were correlated with the concentration of PM10 and NO2.
- Between 316,588 and 631,233 children are born in the U.S. each year with blood mercury levels high enough to cause lifelong loss of intelligence.