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Health Effects of Coal burning Gergely SIMON Greenpeace CEE 03/05/13.

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Presentation on theme: "Health Effects of Coal burning Gergely SIMON Greenpeace CEE 03/05/13."— Presentation transcript:

1 Health Effects of Coal burning Gergely SIMON Greenpeace CEE 03/05/13

2 „ Air pollution is causing more deaths than HIV or malaria combined,” „If we increase access to clean energy... the health benefits will be enormous“ Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, April 2013

3 Coal-fired power plants are among the worst sources of toxic air pollutants coal power plants are only responsible for a just a smaller portion of total outdoor air pollution, but they are the most important source of industrial air pollution. Other sources: transport, industrial processes, residential heating, and agriculture. Air pollution is a serious public health risk in Europe Europeans estimated to live on average almost 9 months shorter due to air pollution-related deaths. EEA estimates that over 90% of urban population in the EU is exposed to fine particle (PM2.5) and O3 above the WHO guidelines,

4 Building new coal power plants means that hazardous emissions and their effects on health would continue for ~40 years. pollutants can travel over long distances and across borders the whole European population is affected by coal pollution

5 premature deaths caused mainly by cardiopulmonary diseases and some attributable to lung cancer. Premature mortality (expressed as deaths per 10,000 inhabitants/year) attributable to PM2.5 exposure at year 2005 pollution levels. Acidrain, June European Topic Centre on Air and Climate Change on behalf of (EEA), 2010

6 HEAL study Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) 2013: Emissions from coal power plants in Europe impacts amount to more than 18,200 premature deaths, about 8,500 new cases of chronic bronchitis, and over 4 million lost working days each year. –Adding emissions from coal power plants in Croatia, Serbia and Turkey, the figures for mortality increase to 23,300 premature deaths, or 250,600 life years lost, while the total costs are up to €54.7 billion annually. Together, coal power plants in Poland, Romania and Germany are responsible for more than half of the total health impacts. Other key polluters: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Serbia, Turkey, UK

7 Approximately 300 large coal-fired power plants are in operation in the EU, producing a quarter of all electricity consumed, but they emit: 70% of the EU’s SO2 emissions and over 40% of NOx emissions from the power sector. ~ half of all industrial mercury emissions and a third of industrial arsenic emissions into the air.

8 Sulphur dioxide (SO 2 ) Affect respiratory system, lung functions, aggravation of asthma and chronic bronchitis, makes people more prone to infections of the respiratory tract; irritation of eyes; cardiac disease aggravated; ischemic stroke risk Mayor health impact: formation of sulphate PM Contributes to acidification: adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems in rivers-lakes, and damage to forests. Nitrogen oxides (NO x ) Asthma exacerbation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stunted lung development; cardiac arrhythmias, ischemic stroke, Asthma development (suspected) High NO x conc. cause airway inflammation, reduced lung function. Long-term exposure: bronchitis increase in asthmatic children NO x contributes to acidification and eutrophication of waters and soils, lead to the formation of PM. Reacts with VOCs in sunlight to form ground- level ozone

9 Particulate matter (PM) Most damaging pollutants, especially PM 2.5. Penetrates deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream, and chronic exposure can cause: Respiratory diseases: asthma development (suspected), asthma exacerbation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stunted lung development (PM2.5), lung cancer; Cardiovascular: cardiac arrhythmias, acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure (PM2.5). Nervous system: ischemic stroke.

10 Particulate matter (PM) The impact of a 10 microgram per cubic metre increase in average exposure to fine pollution particles (PM2.5) over the course of a pregnancy. Raised the chances of having a low birth-weight baby by 10% (Dadvand, 2013) PM is emitted directly from the power plants & secondary PM is formulated from SO2, NOX, NH3 VOCs.

11 Heavy metals Tens of thousands of kilograms of toxic metals such as mercury (Hg), lead (Pb), arsenic (As) and cadmium (Cs)are emitted from coal power plants –they pollute the air & heavy metals can be deposited on terrestrial or water surfaces and subsequently buildup in soils and sediments, and can bio-accumulate in food chains. They are typically toxic to both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Mercury (Hg), –Coal power plants are the most important source of mercury in Europe. –Enters the bloodstream. From pollution to food as toxic Methylmercury. –Damage to brain, nervous system, kidneys and liver; birth defects. Damage to childrens’ brain development and cause irreversible damage to vital organs of the foetus. Lead: damage mental and physical development in children. Damage to kidney, blood cells, and reproductive systems Arsenic, cadmium: cancer, toxic to the lung

12 Organic pollutants Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) Different harmful effects to human health and to ecosystems, Most of them is a known or suspected human carcinogen They bioaccumulate in the environment. VOCs: The main compounds from coal power plants are are monoaromatic hydrocarbons and aliphatic hydrocarbons. Aromatic hydrocarbons: e.g. benzene, xylene, ethylbenzene, toluene: Irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, throat; difficulty in breathing; impaired function of the lungs; impaired memory; stomach discomfort; effects to the liver and kidneys; may cause adverse effects to the nervous system. Benzene is a carcinogen. Aldehydes including formaldehyde: Probable carcinogen (lung and nasopharyngeal cancer); eye, nose, throat irritation; respiratory symptoms

13 Impact of life cycle of coal use Coal use pollutes from mining, long transport and handling and storing the coal, through combustion to waste disposal, Mining: water, dust/air pollution. Mining and combustion: water consuption. Transportation: dust Disposal of fly ash and bottom ash can cause air, water and soil pollution.

14 Effect of a single coal power plant In Northern Italy, women’s risk of dying of lung cancer was found to be up to twice as high in an area exposed to air pollution from a coal- fired power plant and other industrial sources. Spain: elevated risk of lung, throat and bladder cancer within 50 kilometers of coal-fired power plants. Nováky power plant in Slovakia: burning high-arsenic coal increased arsenic conc. in hair and urine, hearing loss in children and elevated risks of skin cancer.

15 Thank you!


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