Physicians’ Coal Study raises health concerns


Photo by Mike Willis.

Most of us know that burning coal is bad for the environment. But a study released by the Iowa chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility details the additional troubling ways it affects the health of Iowans.

Here are two key excerpts:

Ninety-two percent of Iowans live within 30 miles of a coal plant, and almost one out of three Iowa children attend school in close proximity to a coal plant. Additionally, Iowa is home to several of the oldest, least efficient and most polluting coal burning power plants in the nation, those grandfathered and exempted from stricter emissions limits after passage of the Clean Air Act in 1977.

This means that not only does Iowa have more power plants per capita than almost all states, but many of Iowa’s power plants emit relatively more pollution per unit of energy produced because of their age. Finally, Iowa also disposes a disproportionate amount of coal combustion waste.

Numerous toxic substances naturally found in coal are concentrated in such waste. Iowa has lax regulations on coal combustion waste disposal and allows waste from other states to be brought into Iowa for disposal. Thus Iowa absorbs the waste from its own plants as well as that produced elsewhere despite the potential health and environmental impacts of the many toxic substances involved…. Continue reading