Besides having a big carbon footprint, power plants that burn fossil fuels such as coal, release a large amount of cancer causing pollutants into the year annually. This is why the environmental protection agency has decided to issue new guidelines regulating the amount and types of pollutants released into the air by fossil fuel burning power plants by November 2011. This action however, was not initiated by the EPA, but rather in response to lawsuits filed by organizations concerned with the public health hazard posed, which stated that the EPA was not updating their pollution laws in accordance with the Clean Air Act.
Owners and operators of coal and oil power plants are obviously concerned that they will be unable to afford the expensive changes needed. However, increased rates of lung cancer and other types of cancer are an unacceptable result to accept just to run a profitable power plant. If it becomes too expensive for owners of coal burning power plants to continue production of electricity, this could make other types of electric energy production such as geothermal and solar energy much less expensive.
In fact, President Obama recently stated that the nation that develops green technology first, will become a global economic leader. The true cost of coal and oil burning power plants may be much more than just an increased carbon footprint and global warming, but maybe harming the health of the average American. While secondhand smoke has recently been proved to dramatically increase the rates of heart attacks, and other medical conditions due to smoking, it is likely that the pollutants release by coal and oil burning power plants causes a certain amount of disease, and even deaths, each year in the United States.
In fact, one study suggest that the pollution from coal power plants kills approximately 30,000 Americans a year. Death rates are much higher in areas that haven’t higher than average concentration of coal burning power plants, when compared to areas that have few or no coal burning power plants. Besides cancer, the fine particles release by coal burning power plants also aggravates asthma, and asthma is a growing problem in major metropolitan areas with high levels of pollution.
For reasons related to both global warming, as well as for improved public health, coal burning power plants may one day become a thing of the past.
Power plants face potentially costly New Air Pollution
By IAN TALLEY
Study Says Coal Plant Pollution Kills 30,000 A Year