Burning coals
Burning coals
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Is burning coal good for your health?

The nation's largest coal producer argues that the coal industry is generally beneficial while critics argue otherwise.

An Internet-based hoax this week by an activist group targeting the coal industry prompted the nation’s largest coal producer to release a statement linking coal to health, longevity and quality of life. The hoax, at www.coalcares.org, offered free Justin Bieber-themed inhalers for kids with asthma and lampooned the coal industry in general and the leading private-sector coal producer in particular.

The campaign’s target company quickly responded with a press release arguing that coal produces electricity and that “The United National has linked life expectancy, educational attainment and income with per-capita electricity use, and the World Resources Institute found that for every tenfold increase in per-capita energy use, individuals live 10 years longer.”

Critics of that view point out that the correlation between electricity use and improved life expectancy only applies to the world’s poorest countries.In its press release, the coal company noted that while coal use has tripled over the past few decades, “regulated emissions” have declined 84 percent.The American Lung Association points out that coal-fired power plants release toxic gases, mercury and fine particle pollution responsible for premature deaths and a variety of diseases. The group has been a vocal proponent of more stringent requirements on coal-burning plants to clean up the pollutants they release into the air.

 

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