Coal’s Assault on Human Health

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Physicians for Social Responsibility has released a groundbreaking medical report, “Coal’s Assault on Human Health,” which takes a new look at the devastating impacts of coal on the human body. Coal combustion releases mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and dozens of other substances known to be hazardous to human health. This report looks at the cumulative harm inflicted by those pollutants on three major body organ systems: the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and the nervous system. The report also considers coal’s contribution to global warming, and the health implications of global warming.

Coal pollutants affect all major body organ systems and contribute to four  of the five leading causes of mortality in the u.s.: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. this  conclusion emerges from our reassessment of the

widely recognized health threats from coal. each step of the coal lifecycle—mining, transportation, washing, combustion, and disposing of post- combustion wastes—impacts human health. Coal combustion in particular contributes to diseases affecting large portions of the u.s. population, including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, and

stroke, compounding the major public health challenges of our time. It interferes with lung development, increases the risk of heart attacks, and compromises intellectual capacity.

Coals Assault on Human HealthA Report for Physicians for Social RepsonsibilityURL: Authors: Alan Lockwood, MD, Kristen Welker-Hood, ScD MSN, RN, Molly Rauch, MPH, Barbara Gottlieb Student Researcher: Jennifer Donahue Faculty evaluator: Peter Phillips Sonoma State University