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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Coal is a Killer & Carcinogen, So Why Use It?

Coal is a Killer & Carcinogen, So Why Use It?



How many people die each year from the use of coal?  At least 24,000 just from the particulate matter, (according to the two doctors quoted below).   That is more than from traffic accidents and murders each year.   What form of life does coal not manage to damage or kill?  Maybe cockroaches, but not many other living things can thrive in dirty polluted air or in the filth left behind when coal is used.  It’s even killing cows and dogs.  And amazingly, they put coal ash in toothpaste.

Elisa Young says she has lost at least six neighbors to cancer in the last ten years.

“I’ve lost neighbors to lung cancer who have never smoked,” she said. “I’ve lost them to brain cancer, breast, throat, colon, multiple myeloma, pre-leukemia. When my son, who’s in his 20s, came home to visit, he said, ‘Mom, is it normal for your mouth to taste like metal?’ We pulled over and he coughed until he got sick.”

Young has no doubt about what she believes is causing all the cancer: coal. For the past 10 years she’s lived in Meigs County, Ohio, the center of the second largest concentration of coal plants in the nation, and has become an environmental activist.

“There isn’t a house on this road that hasn’t been touched by cancer… I had melanoma and I currently have two more precancerous conditions for breast and thyroid cancer, none of which are in my family,” said Young, 47. “My dog died of cancer, my best friend’s dog died of lymphoma. I just gave up a dog because I couldn’t afford to take him into the vet. He was getting lumps on him.”

Each year, coal-burning power plants release nearly 100 million tons of toxic fly ash into wet ponds, rivers and landfills, according to a 2009 report by Earthjustice, an environmental legal advocacy organization. A 2007 risk assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency found that people who live near one of these coal ash waste sites have as high as a 1 in 50 chance of developing cancer, as well as an increased risk of damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver and other organs as a result of exposure to toxic metals. 

Further, says the report, the danger to wildlife and ecosystems is “off the charts.” Linking exposure to specific diseases can be difficult to prove scientifically — it has not been definitely proven that exposure to toxic fly ash caused the sicknesses in Meigs County.

Despite these findings, the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed coal ash a “non-hazardous waste” since 1988, a classification that allows fly ash to be dumped into ponds with no protective liner and re-used as pavement, building materials, fertilizer, potting soil and even toothpaste.

In October of 2009, the EPA finally re-evaluated the dangers of toxic coal ash and proposed new rules to regulate coal waste disposal, but the proposed regulations have been stalled for five months at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, headed by Cass Sunstein. During their deliberations over the past few months, Sunstein’s staff has met with representatives of the coal and fly ash industries approximately 35 times, but has only met with a handful of citizens personally affected by coal ash. According to a press release issued by Ohio Citizen Action last week, Sunstein has not made any public trips to see the real-life effects of coal ash on some of America’s poorest communities.” . . . 

From another article, the health dangers to people of using coal:*  These are severe risks to peoples’ lives.
“Coal-fired power plants pose a major threat to public health. Yet, Dominion Resources is clearing land to build a new coal plant on the Clinch River. While Dominion suggests the proposed plant as a solution to increasing energy demands, the facility would create a host of new environmental and public health threats. The proposed plant would be a conventional coal-fired power plant, one that would spew out tons of pollutants that lead to asthma, heart attacks and even brain damage.

The daily stream of toxic nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds flowing from the plant would contribute to the formation of ground level ozone. These pollutants are known to contribute to asthma and chronic bronchitis, increased heart rhythm irregularities, chest pain episodes and fatal heart attacks. In addition, the particulates emitted by the facility are linked with low birth weight and preterm births that can lead to other health problems and development delays in the first year of life. And of real concern to parents would be the large volumes of mercury that plant would release into the air and waterways of Virginia.

Power plant pollution continues to be a public health menace. A recent study by Abt Associates has demonstrated that nearly 24,000 people die each year in America because of particulate matter pollution from coal plants. This death toll exceeds the mortality from drunken driving (17,000 a year) and homicides (approximately 18,000 a year). More locally, coal plants in Virginia and those plants west (upwind) of the state contribute to deaths, which include 120 lung cancer deaths, 1,421 heart attacks and approximately 24,000 asthma attacks each year (catf.us).”

*by Bernard Tabatznik and Michael McCally.  Tabatznik is a clinical cardiologist in Monterey. McCally is the executive director for Physicians for Social Responsibility in Washington, D.C.
Mercury contamination is so widespread that one out of every six pregnant women have mercury levels in their blood high enough for levels in the fetus to reach or surpass the EPA’s safety threshold for mercury. … Smokestack emissions from coal-fired power plants are the primary source of mercury pollution …

We know coal is dangerous, polluting and adding to human and animal cancer.  We know it’s causing climate change.  We know it emits not just greenhouse gases, but also mercury, arsenic, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other toxins in its ash waste.  Yet its use continues.  This is nothing short of outrageous. How many people die each year from the use of coal?  At least 24,000 just from the particulate matter.  Talk about shoving something down our throats — this is what they have done with coal for over 100 years, and we are dying from it.

There is still NO SUCH THING AS CLEAN COAL and there is no affordable way to make it clean enough to use it in the future, and still have it be cheap enough to use.  Cleaning something that dirty will be very expensive.

The era of coal is over. We know too much to continue to use it.  Let’s bury it once and for all.

Tell your senators and congress people — end the use of coal!

By S. T.

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