June 10, 2009

A soot analysis further proves the link between health risks and coal

The soot analysis that Felecity Barringer, writer for the New York Times, reports in her article, Analysis Finds Elevated Risk From Soot Particles in the Air, unfortunately applies greatly to South Carolina. The article conveys the heavy influence coal-powered plants have on the human health. In South Carolina's case, there already exists 12 coal plants which provide more than 70% of South Carolina's electricity. Santee Cooper's new coal plant will intensify health risks in South Carolina -- at least 550 South Carolinian residents die from soot pollution every year. Santee Cooper's new coal plant will produce 900 pounds of soot annually, 10,500 tons of smog-forming nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide, and will not have safety measures to reduce soot particle emissions. Soot's fine particles are extremely small and can enter the lungs and continue into the blood stream to cause heart and breathing problems. In Florence and Darlington counties, a leading cause for hospitalization is bronchitis and asthma. The below article reviews an analysis that proves coal plant's ability to jeopardize the health of residents. Let's not let the new coal plant do more hurt! Say NO to another coal plant.

The New York Times:
Science - Environment
Analysis Finds Elevated Risk From Soot Particles in the Air
Felecity Barringer
June 2, 2009

A new appraisal of existing studies documenting the links between tiny soot particles and premature death from cardiovascular ailments shows that mortality rates among people exposed to the particles are twice as high as previously thought.

Dan Greenbaum, the president of the nonprofit Health Effects Institute, which is releasing the analysis on Wednesday, said that the areas covered in the study included 116 American cities, with the highest levels of soot particles found in areas including the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles and the Central Valley of California; Birmingham, Ala.; Atlanta; the Ohio River Valley; and Pittsburgh.

The review found that the risk of having a condition that is a precursor to deadly heart attacks for people living in soot-laden areas goes up by 24 percent rather than 12 percent, as particle concentrations increase.

A variety of sources produce fine particles, and they include diesel engines, automobile tires, coal-fired power plants and oil refineries.

The extended epidemiological analysis, which draws on data gathered from 350,000 people over 18 years, and an additional 150,000 people in more recent years, was conducted for the Health Effects Institute by scientists at the University of Ottawa. The institute was created by the Environmental Protection Agency and the industries that it regulates with the goal of obtaining unbiased studies.

The link between fine particles, the diameter of which is smaller than a 30th of a human hair, and cardiopulmonary disease has been established for two decades, and the E.P.A. has regulated such emissions since 1997. In 2006, despite mounting evidence that the particles were deadlier than first thought, the agency declined to lower chronic exposure limits.

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