A number of adverse health, and environmental effects of coal burning exist, especially in power stations, and of coal mining, including:
- Coal-fired power plants shortened nearly 24,000 lives a year in the United States, including 2,800 from lung cancer.
- Generation of hundreds of millions of tons of waste products, including fly ash, bottom ash, and flue-gas desulfurization sludge, that contain mercury, uranium, thorium, arsenic, and other heavy metals
- Acid rain from high sulfur coal
- Interference with groundwater and water table levels due to mining
- Contamination of land and waterways and destruction of homes from fly ash spills. such as the Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill
- Impact of water use on flows of rivers and consequential impact on other land uses
- Dust nuisance
- Subsidence above tunnels, sometimes damaging infrastructure
- Uncontrollable coal seam fire which may burn for decades or centuries
- Coal-fired power plants without effective fly ash capture systems are one of the largest sources of human-caused background radiation exposure.
- Coal-fired power plants emit mercury, selenium, and arsenic, which are harmful to human health and the environment.
- Release of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, causes climate change and global warming, according to the IPCC and the EPA. Coal is the largest contributor to the human-made increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Read more about this topic: Coal
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