Coal Power Damages Health

In a recently published report, The Toll of Coal the Clean Air Task Force suggests air pollution created by coal-fired electrical power plants causes significant harm to human health.

Pennsylvania and Ohio are the two states most impacted by the air pollution. In Ohio, 1,200 deaths, 1,000 hospital admissions and 2,300 heart attacks this year are connected to coal power pollution (Source: 1,359 deaths per year in Pennsylvania  are linked to power plant air pollution.

Nationwide, the report says 13,200 premature deaths are linked to power plant pollution this year. It also states, “Additional impacts include an estimated 9,700 hospitalizations and more than 20,000 heart attacks per year.”

The report notes a body of research has established a connection between fine particle air pollution and health problems. It goes on to say exposure to fine particle air pollution can shorten lifespans, “And although research suggests fine particles reduce the average life span of the general population by a few years, the life of an individual dying as a result of exposure to air pollution may be shortened by 14 years. ” (Page 8)

For metropolitan areas, the report’s data says mortality risk per person per year is highest in Johnston, Pennsylvania. In that city, the risk is 25.5 per 100,000 adults.  In terms of numbers of deaths, Pittsburgh is said to have about 340 associated with power plants impacts. Cleveland’s is 228. Detroit’s total mortality is listed as 275, while Chicago’s is 347. Cities like Napa, CA and Missoula, MT, where there aren’t any coal-fired power plants in close proximity, have zero deaths per year due to power plant pollution.

States with the highest impact from coal power pollution are West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana Virginia, Delaware, Tennessee, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia.  In Virginia, the number of deaths per year is 647, and Indiana’s yearly mortality is listed as 550. Nevada and Wyoming only have about three deaths per year, due to an absence of coal power plants.

The report includes an interactive map, which clearly shows the largest concentration of coal-fired plants is located in the eastern, northeastern, and mid-atlantic regions, with some in the Midwest, and South. The interactive map not only shows where the most coal-fired power plants are, it also presents data about mortality risk, so you can check your own.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have shown support for “clean” coal.

Image Credit: David Jolley

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Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Penny C.
Penny C.3 years ago

Coal is not good for enviroment or health.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Debra Griffin
Debra B.3 years ago

That's been known for years

Kenneth D.
Kenneth Davies3 years ago


Nicole Weber
Nicole W.4 years ago

Good to know the statistics, now we need to ban coal.

Jane H.
Jane H.4 years ago

We must stop coal and mountaintop removal.

John S.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks, have to agree, there is no such thing as clean coal, never mind the impact that mining has.

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.