Coal Tattoo

New study details strip-mining air pollution

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There’s a new paper just out that provides some helpful new information about the potential public health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. Here’s the abstract:

People who live in Appalachian areas where coal mining is prominent have increased health problems compared with people in non-mining areas of Appalachia. Coal mines and related mining activities result in the production of atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that is associated with human health effects. There is a gap in research regarding particle size concentration and distribution to determine respiratory dose around coal mining and non-mining areas. Mass- and number-based size distributions were determined with an Aerodynamic Particle Size and Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer to calculate lung deposition around mining and non-mining areas of West Virginia. Particle number concentrations and deposited lung dose were significantly greater around mining areas compared with non-mining areas, demonstrating elevated risks to humans. The greater dose was correlated with elevated disease rates in the West Virginia mining areas. Number concentrations in the mining areas were comparable to a previously documented urban area where number concentration was associated with respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

The paper, Atmospheric particulate matter size distribution and concentration in West Virginia coal mining and non-mining areas, was published online yesterday by the peer-reviewed Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, and is available to subscribers here.