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A new study has found that there is a strong relationship between pollution released into the air by coal fired power plants and higher rates of suicide.
By using data about mortality rates in 2001-2005 from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, and levels of air contamination in 2000 from the EPA, a direct correlation was proven to exist between the number of coal power plants in a county and the suicide rates in that same county.
Dr. John G. Spangler, the lead researcher of the study and a professor of family medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, said that the “study raises interesting questions about suicide rates in counties where coal-fired electrical plants operate and suggests that the quality of air can affect people suffering from different mood disorders.”
Related article: Global Markets Hot for U.S. Coal
It has already been discovered that air pollution can have detrimental effects on human health, with links to; “early death, developmental disorders, asthma, low IQ, obesity, autism, insulin resistance in children, etc.,” according to CleanTechnica, but this is the first time that a direct link to suicide has been noted.
In general North Carolina has a much higher suicide rate than the US, but the study calculates that for each additional coal power plant in a NC county there were an extra two suicides a year per 100,000 people in that county.
At the time of this study there were 20 coal fired power stations in North Carolina, which meant that per 100,000 people roughly 40 killed themselves each year. Taking into account that at the time NC had a population of 8,049,313, which means that around 3,220 suicides each year could be attributed to pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Spangler admitted that “further research is needed to understand what factors related to coal burning actually are at play and suggest that tighter regulation of coal-fired power plant emissions might cut down on county suicide rates in North Carolina.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com