Unveiling the Silent Killer: The True Toll of US Coal Power Plants

Unveiling the Silent Killer: The True Toll of US Coal Power Plants

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Step into the shadows of coal-fired power plants, where a startling revelation awaits about their true impact on American lives.

New research challenges previous estimates, uncovering that coal plants caused twice as many premature deaths—460,000—over two decades.

The research focuses on tiny toxic air pollutants, PM2.5, emitted by cars, factories, and power plants, linked to asthma, heart disease, low birth weight, and cancers.

Earlier studies underestimated coal's danger, assuming all PM2.5 sources carried the same risk.

PM=Particulate Matter

Government regulations emerge as life-saving measures, with most deaths occurring during weak environmental standards and high PM2.5 levels.

Lucas Henneman, the lead author, sheds light on the severity: "Air pollution from coal is much more harmful than we thought."

Tracking 480 US coal power plants from 1999 to 2020, the research uses Medicare and emissions data, connecting annual exposure levels with health records.

The deadliest coal plants cluster east of the Mississippi River, with historical ties to population hubs in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

A staggering 85% of deaths happened between 1999 and 2007, prompting significant declines as plants closed or installed scrubbers.

By 2020, the coal PM2.5 death toll plummeted 95%, showcasing the positive impact of environmental regulations.

The story ends on a global note, emphasizing the importance of this research as countries grapple with the balance between cheap energy and its severe environmental and health costs.