Extra 60,000 Cancer Cases from Mountaintop Removal

Researchers from West Virginia University studied cancer rates in counties of West Virginia where mountaintop removal is practiced for coal mining. In these areas they found a higher cancer rate, “There are 1.2 million people who live in mountaintop coal mining counties in central Appalachia based on 2010 US Census data. If the rates found in this study represent the region, a 5% higher cancer rate (14.4% vs. 9.4%) translates to an additional 60,000 people with cancer in central Appalachian mountaintop mining counties.” (Source: Mother Jones)

The researchers did acknowledge there is uncertainty in generalizing the results of their survey to the entire population living in the area, as there can be with any study. Their research team tried to contact 2,679 households, and conducted interviews with 773 individuals from 702 households in the area where mountaintop removal is practiced. The surveys were conducted in the Coal River and Pocahontas areas.

The chance of individuals in the survey reporting cancer was twice as high in the mountaintop removal area than in the area without it. Perhaps even more shocking, is the fact the researchers did not record information for people in the mountaintop removal area who have already died from cancer, yet it has already been established that higher lung cancer mortality is associated with coal mining. In other words, it is likely there were even more households in the area studied that had been impacted by cancer. The reason for the increased cancer rate is exposure to coal dust, “many chemicals that are present in coal, coal strata, and coal processing activities are established or possible carcinogens.” (Source: Mother Jones)

One of the researchers said, “This significantly higher risk was found after control for age, sex, smoking, occupational exposure and family cancer history. The study adds to the growing evidence that mountaintop mining environments are harmful to human health.” (Source: Mother Jones)

Millions of pounds of explosives are used weekly to blow up the mountaintops of West Virginia. The constant destruction wrought by mountaintop removal has also killed hundreds of thousands of acres of natural habitat for wildlife.

Image Credit: Flashdark


Related Links

New Mountaintop Removal Movie (Video)
Top Coal Supporters in Congress


Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for the share!

William and Kat Dresbach


Ailsa Porter
Ailsa Porter5 years ago

What are business and politics doing to the general population!

Youssef A.
Youssef A6 years ago

"Do not Corrupt the earth..." (Quran 7:56)

Beverly G.
bev g6 years ago

thks for this

Harry B.
Harry B6 years ago

Recent peer reviewed articles show MTR is implicated in stream pollution, higher rates of birth defects, and higher cancer rates. This data coupled with the EPA/OSM environmental impact statement paints a very definitive and convincing picture of what mountaintop removal does to us. All of this overwhelming data aside, just go look at what MTR does to our beautiful earth and that should be all that's needed to convince anyone that MTR is a bad thing to do.

Apparently, the federal government and state governments are all blind and haven't read the literature, since they continue to turn a blind eye to the proposed laws that would block mountaintop mining. Since we don't have the power of highly paid lobbyists that big coal has, our only alternative is climb trees and write millions of letters and make millions of phone calls. So, lets get busy.

Laure H.
Laure H6 years ago

Is it something in the mountain that is causing the higher cancer rate, or something about the process that causes the higher cancer rate?

Purdue H.
Purdue H.6 years ago

60,000 expendable people. Sixty.Thousand. More than the population of Beckley, or of Huntington, or Morgantown. Think about a Mountaineer football game. Imagine every.single.person there having cancer. That’s what mountaintop removal is doing to Appalachia.

If you live in Southern West Virginia, look around you. Numbers like that are extremely likely to touch someone you love, just as the birth defects do. How, in any culture, is such a thing tolerable, let alone acceptable?

How will coal magnates like Joe Manchin and apologists like Rockefeller, Rahall, Moore-Capito and McKinley (not to mention Rogers, McConnell, Paul, Warner and Webb) respond to this? Will they respond at all?

I wonder if the lawyers at CrowellMoring in D.C. will see this as another opportunity to accuse us of being inbred.


Rachel Skelly
Rachel S6 years ago

theres nowhere safe to live!

Dave Kane
Dave Kane6 years ago

Not much better example of the insanity and pure greed of this capitalist corrupt system than this rape of the environment. How in hell could the government -- by the people for the people, what a joke -- allow this destruction which is killing people, flora and fauna. Disgusting. When all the people are dead I will rejoice.