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The Institute for Energy Economics at the Stuttgart University has just a released a report, commissioned by Greenpeace International, that studied the health impacts of the coal industry in Europe.
Fumes released by the EU’s 300 largest coal power plants cause around 22,300 premature deaths each year, costing billions in disease treatment, and lost working days, and the report suggested that a further 2,700 deaths would occur each year on top of that if plans proceed to build 50 new coal plants around the continent.
Air pollution from coal plants is linked to more deaths than traffic accidents in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic, and in Germany and the UK the figures traffic accidents only just account for more deaths than coal pollution.
The report noted that the total number of potential years of life that were lost as a result of premature deaths in 2010, was around 140,000 years. The Drax power station in Britain was responsible for the loss of 4,450 years, and the Longannet in Scotland took 4,210 years of potential life.
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Coal power plants had the worst impact on health in Poland, and the most polluting utility companies in Europe were PGE (Poland), RWE (Germany & the UK), PPC (Greece), Vattenfall (Sweden, and ?EZ (Czech Republic).
Burning coal leads to microscopic particles of acid gas, soot, and dust particles, which find their way deep into the lungs and bloodstream over time; this then causes heart attacks, ling cancer, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
The report also stated that “tens of thousands of kilogrammes of toxic metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium are spewed out of the stacks, contributing to cancer risk and harming children's development.”
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com