Clean Coal Still Dirty
A study commissioned by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force ranks the top cities experiencing adverse health effects from coal-fired power plants. Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati are in the top 15.
The list, with the leading city first: New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Boston, St. Louis, Columbus, Indianapolis, Richmond, Va.
An environmental group states that pollution from coal-fired power plants will trigger as many as 219 heart attacks and kill 133 Columbus-area residents this year.
Even if you don't live in any of the 15 listed cities, the study estimates that coal-fired power plants will cause 13,200 premature deaths nationwide this year and $100 billion in related health costs, including hospital visits.
Which one of us wants to know that a loved one of ours died from a death that could have been prevented if cleaner energy was an option? What is the true social, environmental, health and even emotional cost of burning coal? Could there ever be an acceptable number of deaths per year due to coal-fired pollution?
Such questions make it evident that for the sake of our health and the health of those we love, we need to support cleaner sources of energy: wind power, solar power, kinetic energy generated by waves, bio-fuels obtained from bio-waste, and any other possible ways of obtaining the energy and fuel we need to conduct the daily business of living.
Understandably, power company officials such as the Columbus-based American Electric Power dispute the group's findings and insist that they continue to reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants linked to health problems. Power company officials say that power plants use scrubbers to reduce pollution, but then, they also admit that the 2014 deadline to cut sulfur dioxide emissions in half, and nitrogen oxide emissions by about 30% is unrealistic because it takes years to design and install those scrubbers. Meanwhile, denizens of these polluted cities will just have to, literally, suck it up!
Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides create microscopic particles called soot, which causes breathing problems, aggravates asthma, and even triggers heart attacks. These pollutants also create smog which decreases visibility even as it irritates respiratory systems.
Will there ever be such a thing as "clean coal" as the power company executives insist is possible?