Coal - Environmental Effects

Environmental Effects

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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