Coal-fired pollution killing 800 Australians a year: report
This study just took as proven the conclusions of several American studies of pollution effects. But I have repeatedly shown that the studies concerned were badly flawed -- either because of their failure to apply demograpic controls and/or the minute effects found. So this study is a castle built on sand. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here
They also rely on a recent MJA study of the Hazelwood fire but that study attempts to examine before-and-after effects without having any data on "before". A good try but no cigar.
Air pollution from Australia’s ageing coal-fired power stations kills around 800 people each year and spreads hundreds of kilometres from regional plants into major cities, new research finds.
This national death toll is twice as high as the number of smoke inhalation deaths in the recent catastrophic bushfire season, and eight times greater than the average annual casualties from all natural disasters, according to a new report from Greenpeace Australia.
This is the first time the national health impacts of burning coal for electricity have been scientifically assessed, its authors say.
Air pollution from coal-burning power stations also causes an average of 850 babies each year to be born with low birth weight, which puts them at greater risk of serious health conditions as adults, like cardiovascular disease, it finds. This represents 450 babies each year for Sydney, and 260 for Melbourne.
"Australians all over the country are paying for electricity with their lives and health, even if they don’t use power from burning coal or live near a power station," said Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner, Jonathan Moylan.
There are 14,000 asthma attacks and symptoms among Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 19 that can be attributed to emissions from coal-burning power stations each year, the report finds.
Some of these symptoms come from cross-state pollution, with about 20 percent of cases occurring in states and territories that are not home to the power station that is the source of the emissions.
But a spokesperson for the Australian Energy Council, which represents major generators, rejected the report as "alarmist, misleading and lacking in rigour".
They pointed out it had not been peer-reviewed, saying it used outdated data from overseas and extrapolated it to Australia.
"This report appears to be part of a broader campaign that seeks to demonise fossil fuel plants regardless of their health, safety or environmental performance," they said. "All power plants have to meet health and environmental limits set and monitored by independent bodies."
The Greenpeace study modelled how much pollution from coal power stations could be expected in certain areas, based on observed meteorological conditions, reported pollutant emissions and electricity generation.
Existing health studies were then used to calculate how many additional deaths occur with this increased pollution. For mortality, this included deaths due to heart disease, cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer, lower respiratory infections and stroke.
Report co-author Professor Hilary Bambrick, an environmental epidemiologist, said power plant air pollution had caused Australians to die and suffer from preventable diseases for decades: "Governments must come up with a plan to replace our ageing and unreliable coal burning power stations with clean energy solutions as quickly as possible."
New research recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia found unborn babies whose mothers were exposed to smoke from the Hazelwood coal mine fire are at greater risk of respiratory infections in early childhood, despite not directly inhaling the pollution.
Australia still operates 22 coal-burning power stations, some of which are among the oldest and most polluting in the world. Power stations in Australia are licensed to emit pollutant concentrations that dramatically exceed limits set by comparable countries, says Max Smith, a campaigner at Environmental Justice Australia.
He urged federal and state governments to address flaws in the regulatory system and fit Australia’s coal-fired power stations with basic pollution controls that could cut toxic pollutants by more than 85 percent.