Coal Emissions "Five Times Worse" for Health
Researchers at the NYU Langone Medical Center say that coal emissions are five times worse than other types of pollution.
The study used data from 100 U.S. cities to estimate the health impact of various types of airborne particulate matter.
Previous research has shown that smaller particulate matter, under 2.5 µm in diameter (PM2.5), is significantly worse for health than larger particles of 10 µm in diameter or more. That’s due to a smaller particle's ability to enter deeper into the lungs and successfully maneuver within the blood system, bringing substances such as arsenic, mercury and selenium into the body.
The research found that, pound-for-pound, particles from coal-burning were five times worse than other particle types of the same size. Also, particles from burning fossil fuels were associated with an increased risk of death from ischemic heart disease.
Interestingly, the team found that PM2.5 from the burning of biomass, like wood, were "non-significant contributors" to mortality risk.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ambient air pollution was the cause of 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012.
Don't miss this week's Slice of History: 1st Heart Transplant