Environment/health : Report Denounces Health Bill of Coal-Fired Plants

Article excerpt

Polluting emissions from coal-fired power plants cause nearly 20,000 deaths per year in the EU, says a new report, published on 7 March by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). Increasing coal use, due in particular to the decision by several countries to phase out nuclear energy, makes greater awareness of the health coasts all the more urgent, notes the NGO, which submits a number of recommendations to member states and the European Union and condemns the construction of new plants.

SCIENTIFIC DEMONSTRATIO

"Our report(1) presents the scientific demonstration of the damaging effects of coal combustion on health," explains HEAL Executive Director Genon Jensen, who adds that "this finding is particularly alarming because the use of coal is increasing".

HEAL relies on studies by members of the European Respiratory Society (ERS). The cost of respiratory diseases in health care and lost working days is estimated at 42.8 billion. Poland, Romania and Germany, the three countries that use coal to generate electricity, pay nearly half this cost, states the report.

Release of the report marks the launch by HEAL, in association with the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), of an information campaign on the health risks of coal combustion and the need to improve air quality. The European Commission's announced presentation of a new air quality strategy in the context of 2013 European Year of Air' offers an opportunity to improve the situation, notes HEAL.

The report also points out that coal and the climate do not mix. The EU committed, in 2008, to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 and recommends the phase-out of coal-fired power plants. …