A new report by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit environmental group, finds that pollution from coal-fired power plants will result in the premature death of more than 13,000 people this year. The report, which is an update from similar studies conducted in 2000 and 2004, says that emissions from coal plants, like sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), “continue to take a significant toll on the health and longevity of millions of Americans,” even though many of the emissions have decreased in recent years. The figures are significantly down from the 2004 study, which predicted nearly 24,000 deaths per year from coal pollutants.
In calculating the specific human impact that coal has on the country’s population, the report will almost certainly be used by environmentalists to argue for stronger regulations on coal-fired power plants.
According to the report:
[F]ine particle pollution from existing coal plants is expected to cause nearly 13,200 deaths in 2010.Additional impacts include an estimated 9,700 hospitalizations and morethan 20,000 heart attacks per year. The total monetized value of theseadverse health impacts adds up to more than $100 billion per year. Thisburden is not distributed evenly across the population. Adverse impacts areespecially severe for the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease.In addition, the poor, minority groups, and people who live in areasdownwind of multiple power plants are likely to be disproportionatelyexposed to the health risks and costs of fine particle pollution.