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Health Risks Associated With the Proposed 750 MW Coal-Fired Power Plant in Tyrone, WI Crispin H. Pierce, Ph. D. for the Chippewa Valley Sustainable Energy Association
Overview • What health risks would be caused by the coal-fired plant? • Which pollutants would be emitted and what are their associated toxicities? • What are the complexities in estimating personal exposure and risk? • What are realistic health risks from operating the proposed coal-fired plant?
Health Risks http: //geology. usgs. gov/connections/bia/rshealth-effects. htm http: //www. umwa. org/booksetc/books. shtml
Sources of Health Risks From the Proposed Facility • • • Coal mining Mine waste Coal transportation Site destruction and construction activities Power plant emissions Waste handling (notably bottom and fly ash)
Clean Air Task Force: http: //www. catf. us/publications/reports/Cradle_to_Grave. pdf
Coal Mining http: //www. ohvec. org/galleries/mountaintop_removal/007/43. html
Coal Mining Deaths and Disability • 1, 000 Current and former mine workers die each year from coal pneumoconiosis. • 9, 000 Years of potential lives lost to life expectancy each year. • 10, 000 Hospitalizations for coal pneumoconiosis each year. • $1, 500, 000 is paid each year by the Social Security Administration and Department of Labor to former miners with black lung disease.
Coal Mine Waste http: //www. ohvec. org/galleries/mountaintop_removal/008/
Coal-Fired Power Plant Emissions Ron Schmitt / AP file / http: //www. msnbc. msn. com/id/5174391/
Toxicants Emitted From Coal Plants http: //casahome. org/uploads/EPT_INFOWSBrown. PDF
Clean Air Task Force: http: //www. catf. us/publications/reports/Cradle_to_Grave. pdf
Annual Air Emissions from a Coal-Fired Power Plant (Lakeviewa) ahttp: //www. irr- neram. ca/about/May%2019%20 Workshop/Monica%20 Campbell%20 talk. ppt#280, 35, Some Policy Questions of Local Significance
Human Exposure http: //pasture. ecn. purdue. edu/~epados/mercbuild/images/exposure. jpg
Exposure Complexities • Constituents of coal (e. g. , uranium, thorium, sulfur) • Pollution control equipment of facility • Surrounding human, plant, animal populations • Wind speed and direction, precipitation, soil conditions, surface water characteristics, depth to groundwater (for waste).
http: //casahome. org/uploads/EPT_INFOWSBrown. PDF
Mercury Exposure http: //www. epa. gov/mercury/pics/exposurea. gif
Risk Complexities http: //casahome. org/uploads/EPT_INFOWSBrown. PDF
Realistic Health Risk Estimates • Within the electric power industry, coalfired plants generate 97% of fine particle soot and sulfur dioxide emissions. Fine particles cause cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Sulfur dioxide causes lung irritation and acid precipitation.
• Coal-fired plants generate 92% of smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions, which increase the rate of respiratory disease in children. • Coal-fired plants generate 86% of emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary global warming pollutant, which causes sea level rise, extinction of species, and increased severe weather events (e. g. heat waves).
• Coal-fired plants generate almost 100% of mercury emissions, which causes neurotoxicity and developmental effects in the fetus. The developing fetus is about five-to-ten times more susceptible to mercury toxicity than an adult.
• Environmental Protection Agency consultants have estimated that fine particle pollution from power plants cause early death for 474 Wisconsinites, 492 hospitalizations, 11, 949 asthma attacks and 69, 212 lost work days in Wisconsin every year.
• The State of Wisconsin has advised children and women of childbearing age against consuming large fish from all of its lakes and from 192 miles of its rivers due to the risks from mercury contamination.
Studies of Health Risks • Neurotoxicology. 1996 Spring; 17(1): 197 -211. – Probabilistic assessment of health risks of methylmercury from burning coal. Lipfert FW, Moskowitz PD, Fthenakis V, Saroff L. Department of Applied Science, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973, USA. A Monte Carlo model is used to simulate a "worst case" scenario in which a population of 5000 fish eaters in the upper midwestern United States derive the freshwater fish portion of their diet from local waters near a hypothetical large coal-fired power plant. Predictions of Me. Hg levels in hair by this model compared well with an observed distribution of 1437 women. Based on three epidemiological studies of congenital neurological risks, we find that fetal effects appear to be more critical [than adult effects] and that there is a smaller margin of safety for pregnant consumers of freshwater sportfish. However, the margin of safety is still considerable [but] may have been diminished by uncertainties in the relationships between maternal hair Hg and the actual fetal exposures.
• The effects of a coal power plant on the environment and wildlife in southeastern Turkey. Yilmaz K, Inac S, Dikici H, Reyhanli AC. Kahramanmaras Sutcu Imam University, Faculty of Agriculture, Kahramanmaras, Turkey. [email protected] edu. tr This study was carried out to determine the possible effects of the Afsin-Elbistan Coal Power Plant (AECPP) on the environment. The results of the statistical analysis…showed that there were significant differences for p. H, SO 4(-2)-S, Ni and Pb [between less and more contaminated areas]. The discharge water carries a potential risk for the aquatic life and soil health in the area. The honey quality was also affected negatively by fly ash and emission.
• J Epidemiol Community Health. 1997 Jun; 51(3): 227 -32. – Has the prevalence of asthma increased in children? Evidence from a long term study in Israel. Goren AI, Hellmann S. Institute for Environmental Research, Ministry of the Environment and Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel. – BACKGROUND: The permit to build and operate the first 1400 megawatt coal fired power plant in Israel was given provided that three monitoring systemsenvironmental, agricultural, and health monitoring-be set up near the plant. – METHODS: 2 nd, 5 th, and 8 th grade school-children living in three communities with different expected levels of air pollution were followed up every three years. They performed pulmonary function tests (PFT), and their parents filled out American Thoracic Society-National Heart and Lung Institute (ATS-NHLI) health questionnaires. – CONCLUSIONS: The increased prevalence of asthma could be observed in all the communities studied and does not seem to be connected with the operation of the power plant.
• Eur J Epidemiol. 1989 Mar; 5(1): 87 -9. – A retrospective cohort mortality study on workers of two thermoelectric power plants: fourteen-year follow-up results. Petrelli G, Menniti-Ippolito F, Taroni F, Raschetti R, Magarotto G. Laboratorio di Epidemiologia e Biostatistica-Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Rome, Italy. A retrospective cohort study was performed on the workers of two power plants near Venice (which use coal since 1968) in order to test the association between exposure to coal dust and ashes and mortality for all causes, all cancers, and respiratory and digestive cancer. No Standardized Mortality Ratio (SMR) was found in excess in the working cohort with respect to the standard population for any of the investigated effects.
• Arch Environ Health. 1983 Nov-Dec; 38(6): 325 -30. – Health effects of air pollution due to coal combustion in the Chestnut Ridge Region of Pennsylvania: results of crosssectional analysis in adults. Schenker MB, Speizer FE, Samet JM, Gruhl J, Batterman S. Respiratory questionnaires (ATS-DLD-78) were administered to 5557 adult women in a rural area of Western Pennsylvania to evaluate the health effects of air pollution resulting from coal combustion. The risk of "wheeze most days or nights" in nonsmokers residing in the high and medium pollution areas was 1. 58 and 1. 26 (P =. 02), respectively, relative to residents in the low pollution area. In the subset of residents who had lived in the same location for at least 5 yr, relative risks increased to 1. 95 and 1. 40 (P less than. 01), respectively.
Conclusions • Coal-fired power plants in Wisconsin cause premature deaths, hospitalizations, and lost days of work. • These plants are the principal cause of mercury poisoning of Wisconsin lakes, leading to statewide fish advisories. • These facilities also cause acid precipitation.
• The construction of a 750 MW coal-fired power plant in Tyrone would increase all of these health risks, particularly to people living in the region. • The health risks increase is difficult to estimate, and may be considered “acceptable” under current exposure standards.
For More Information • Crispin Pierce • [email protected] edu • (715) 836 -5589