Posted by Jim on July 3, 2010
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Mr. Mark Turner, Northern Energy Corporation:
“Some people are worried about the dust causing asthma but the particular size particle that causes asthma will generally fall out (of the air) before it gets to Aldershot” Fraser Coast Chronicle, 24 June 2010
Comment by Dr. Dick van Steenis MBBS, UK expert on coal mine pollution
The position of Mr. Mark Turner of Northern Energy claiming to be the confident Mr. Fix-it is untenable because he appears totally ignorant of the laws of physics, chemistry, asthma and physiology for starters. He needs to learn that the size of particle that causes asthma is smaller than 2.5 microns, namely PM2.5, and these rise in the air and travel at least 3 miles (4.8km) with those living within 3.2km very badly at risk. That means that Aldershot will be very badly hit.
The vehicles & mining produce lots of PM1 and PM2.5 particles. At Brighton UK in 2007, four earth-moving machines produced a week average of PM1s of 253ug/m3 and of PM2.5s 163ug/m3. The “safe” level of these sizes is around 7ug/m3 and USA/Canada/Japan annual limit of PM2.5s is 15ug/m3.
Studies in Derbyshire and Gwaun-cae- Gurwen revealed 33% of children get asthma 1 mile from an opencast (proved by peakflow measurements etc). At 2 miles 21% of children developed asthma and 12% at 3 miles. These figures are consistent with spirometry of 900 children in the Hunter Valley NSW.
These fine particles produced by the vehicles by emissions and what is thrown up also cause COPD, heart attacks, depression, chronic invalidity and cancers. I attach my 4 page report and 364 references. These will reveal Mr. Turner’s belief in no “health risk” is just deception. Its not a matter of “fear of the unknown” but proven wrecking of the population’s health for financial gain.
In West Virginia USA a recent study found the health damage and premature deaths cost more than the value of the coal. I suggest sceptics travel to Merthyr Tydfil in Wales UK to see opencasting of coal at its worst. Will the company pay for all those within 3 miles to be rehoused as the solution in addressing legitimate “concerns”?? The death rate in the Hunter Valley is 37% above the average for Australia—that could easily be replicated in Queensland.
ScienceDaily (Mar. 27, 2008) — Pollution from coal mining may have a negative impact on public health in mining communities, according to data analyzed in a West Virginia University research study.
“Residents of coal-mining communities have long complained of impaired health,” Michael Hendryx, Ph.D., associate director of the WVU Institute for Health Policy Research in WVU’s Community Medicine department, said. “This study substantiates their claims. Those residents are at an increased risk of developing chronic heart, lung and kidney diseases.”
Hendryx and co-author Melissa Ahern, Ph.D., of Washington State University, used data from a 2001 WVU Health Policy Research telephone survey of more than 16,400 West Virginians. That was correlated with data from the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, which shows volume of coal production from mining in each of the state’s 55 counties.
The goal was to determine whether there is a relationship between coal production and forms of cardiovascular, lung and kidney disease in the state.
According to Hendryx, as coal production increases, so does the incidence of chronic illness. Coal-processing chemicals, equipment powered by diesel engines, explosives, toxic impurities in coals, and even dust from uncovered coal trucks can cause environmental pollution that could have a negative affect on public health.
According to Hendryx, the data show that people in coal mining communities
- have a 70 percent increased risk for developing kidney disease.
- have a 64 percent increased risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) such as emphysema.
- are 30 percent more likely to report high blood pressure (hypertension).
“We’ve considered that chronic illness might be prevalent in these areas because rural West Virginians have less access to health care, higher smoking rates and poorer economic conditions,” Hendryx said. “We’ve adjusted our data to include those factors, and still found disease rates higher in coal-mining communities.”
Hospitalization rates in these communities also were studied. Data show the risk of hospitalization stays for
- COPD increases 1 percent for every 1,462 tons of coal.
- hypertension increases 1 percent for every 1,873 tons of coal.
“Total mortality rates are higher in coal-mining areas compared to other areas of Appalachia and the nation,” Hendryx said. “The incidence of mortality has been consistently higher in coal-mining areas for as long as Centers for Disease Control rates are available, back to 1979.”
Total mortality data for West Virginia suggests there are 313 excess deaths every year from coal-mining pollution.
More detailed reports documenting the increases of mortality rates in coal-mining communities will be published in national journals this spring.
The researchers note that their study is an analysis of existing data, which limits the overall depth of the findings. Their next steps are to directly measure air and water quality in coal-mining communities.
“People in coal-mining communities need better access to healthcare, cleaner air, cleaner water, and stricter enforcement of environmental standards,” he said. “Our study helps open the door for further explorations of community health and coal mining. We owe it to people in those communities to start protecting and repairing their health.”
The study, “Relations between Health Indicators and Residential Proximity to Coal Mining in West Virginia,” will appear in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
Reproduced with permission
The community experience in Stratford NSW
The village of Stratford is situated less than 2km from where Stratford Mine was developed in 1995. The village has tank water and a primary school with 20 pupils. The Licence to mine included consent specifications and obligations to episodically monitor dust particles of 10microns size (PM10), noise levels, blast levels and groundwater. The monitoring of psychological and social health damage effects are not included in the consent provisions. There was no survey of the health status of the community prior to mining, so we do not know what percentage of the community has an above average risk of being sensitive to health damage from mining.
Past research has shown not only that coal dust particularly causes and exacerbates lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis but also that the smallest dust particles (less than 2.5microns) enter the general circulation causing damage to blood vessels, potentially increasing heart attacks, strokes and reducing the birth weight of babies. Additionally toxic heavy metals and volatile organic compounds emitted have the potential to cause brain and kidney damage and to increase cancer rates (2). The National Pollution Inventory lists 20 pollutants emitted by Stratford Mine and the level of most of these have increased by about 50% in the past year. Health damage is cumulative. The smallest very harmful dust particles principally result from burning coal and diesel and are highest close to power stations, but can arise from blasting, mine vehicles and spontaneously burning coal seams such as at Stratford.
Health Impacts of Mining on the Stratford Community, http://nonewcoal.greens.org.au/mines-by-region/HealthImpactsOnStratfordComm.docby