A Word with Dr H: Why Coal Needs to Go. Now.

“Manchin has also almost single-handedly blocked much of President Biden’s climate agenda in Congress this year, in an effort to give coal a life-line in a carbon-constrained world by pressing for costly and unproven carbon capture technologies. But West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and all the other coal states have paid a high health and environmental price for the nation’s economic growth, and the costs are still piling up.”

What are those costs? What are the consequences of Senator Manchin wanting to continue coal burning power plants in the US? Acid rain, destruction of forests, loss of wildlife, and exposure to environmental pollutants like mercury, cadmium, and arsenic, which have been linked to everything from CFS to cancer, are all consequences of coal burning plants. Whose ash is toxic, and dumped in landfills, which can be beyond EPA regulations. “Winds send ash into nearby backyards. Rain falling on the pile pollutes local waterways and groundwater. Trespassers on all terrain vehicles risk injuries. The pile is also a fire hazard…

“When coal and other fossil fuels are burned, the emissions include sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides and can reach the ground as wet or dry depositions. They mix with water, oxygen and other chemicals to form sulfuric and nitric acid, and they can alter rain, fog or hail. They can also land as particles and acidify water and soil that way.” OK, acid rain is one. Why should we care? It strips the soil of essential nutrients and kills off iconic trees in the Northeast while destroying certain fish populations. “Coal ash and other combustion wastes are what remains after coal is burned for electricity, and it contains toxic contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic that can pollute the air and groundwater and are associated with cancer and other health ailments…” So coal is also associated with significant environmental pollution, linked to cancer and multiple chronic health problems.

Its therefore not just a question of getting rid of coal because it is heating up the planet. The long-term health consequences of heavy metal exposure from burning coal (whose symptoms can look like CFS and Lyme disease) include multiple forms of cancer, including kidney cancer, lung, breast, prostate, pancreas, urinary bladder, and nasopharynx cancers. Cadmium is also an epigenetic modifier, changing the genetics for future generations and can contribute to osteoporosis. (Genchi G, Sinicropi MS, Lauria G, Carocci A, Catalano A. The Effects of Cadmium Toxicity. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(11):3782. Published 2020 May 26.).
And as far as mercury toxicity? “Chronic exposure to clinically significant doses of mercury vapor usually produces neurological dysfunction. At low-level exposures, nonspecific symptoms like weakness, fatigue, anorexia, weight loss, and gastrointestinal disturbance have been described [51]. Higher exposure levels are associated with mercurial tremor: fine muscle fasciculations punctuated every few minutes by coarse shaking. Erethism may also be observed: severe behavior and personality changes, emotional excitability, loss of memory, insomnia, depression, fatigue, and in severe cases delirium and hallucination” (Mercury Toxicity and Treatment: A Review of the Literature
Robin A. Bernhoft. Review Article | Open Access. Journal of Environmental and Public Health / 2012 Volume 2012 |Article ID 460508 )

With cleaner power sources now available, why would we continue to adopt dirty coal and risk the severe health consequences for humans and the planet? Recent generation solar panels, if placed in a
100 X 100-mile area in the Calif/AZ/Nevada desert could power the entire US, as per calculations by Elon Musk.
Sorry Senator Manchin. Learn the science. Coal is not good for this country. Only your pocketbook.

Coal Powered the Industrial Revolution. It Left Behind an ‘Absolutely Massive’ Environmental Catastrophe