Surge in coal pollution led to smaller newborns: study

April 3, 2017
Coal plants, such as this one shown outside Delta, Utah, can generates particles that are a respiratory hazard as well as climate-altering greenhouse gases

In fresh evidence about the dangers of coal pollution, a scientist on Monday said a switch to coal-fired power in a southern US state after a nuclear accident in 1979 led to a sharp fall in birthweight, a benchmark of health.

The study looked at the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident in Tennessee, which caused two to be shut down and their power to be replaced locally by generation.

After the energy switch, the weight of newborns fell by 5.4 percent in counties that had the highest levels of air pollution from coal particles emitted by the replacement plants, the investigation found.

Birthweight reductions of just over five percent can result in illness, stunted growth and neurodevelopment problems later in life, earlier research has shown. They are also strongly linked to lower IQ and income.

"Average birth weight declined approximately 134 grams (4.7 ounces) after the nuclear shutdown," said Edson Severnini, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the most affected places, "infant may have deteriorated," he added.

The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Energy, touches on a debate about the risks of coal versus nuclear energy, triggered most recently by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster In Japan.

The accident prompted a slew of countries to curb nuclear plans, resulting in greater use of fossil fuels—especially coal—to meet their energy needs.

Fear of nuclear

Supporters of nuclear, while acknowledging concerns about accidents, say that the technology has a far better record for safety and public health than coal, which generates particles that are a respiratory hazard as well as climate-altering greenhouse gases.

Scientists estimate that in China and India alone, more than 200,000 people die prematurely each year due to coal pollution.

In contrast, supporters of coal say that pollution technology today is far better than four decades ago, and promote a vision of a "" with a far lower risk to the environment and health.

US President Donald Trump's administration is currently setting down plans to revive the American coal industry, including in the region examined in this study.

Severnini said the findings of his research call for reflection on the perceived benefits of shuttering nuclear plants.

"The shutdown of plants in the United States and abroad might not generate as much net benefit as the public perceives," he suggested.

In a commentary also published in Nature Energy, Michael Shellenberger of US research and policy group Environmental Progress agreed.

"Public fears of nuclear power are widespread, especially in the aftermath of , yet their benefits are rarely considered," he wrote.

"Where the normal operation of coal plants results in significant, measurable health impacts, the Fukushima accident—the second worse in history—will have no quantifiable impact on public health outside Japan."

The percentage of global electricity generated by nuclear power has dropped from nearly 18 percent in 1996 to about 11 percent today.

Explore further: Climate researchers claim nuclear power has prevented approximately 1.84 million deaths

More information: Nature Energy, nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nenergy.2017.51

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gkam
Apr 03, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
pntaylor
5 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2017
"the Three Mile Island accident in Tennessee"
Three Mile Island is in Pennsylvania, just SE of Harrisburg.
SteveS
5 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2017
"the Three Mile Island accident in Tennessee"
Three Mile Island is in Pennsylvania, just SE of Harrisburg.


"The study looked at the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident in Tennessee, which caused two nuclear plants to be shut down and their power to be replaced locally by coal generation."

This is poorly worded and confusing, here's an extract from the abstract that explains it better.

"Here we show the effect on air pollution and infant health in the context of the temporary closure of nuclear plants by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the 1980s. After the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission intensified inspections throughout the nation, leading to the shutdown of two large nuclear power plants in the TVA area. "

http://www.nature...gy201751
Eikka
4.5 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2017
No coal burning in California.


http://institutef...oal-use/

California's Hidden Coal Use

California's politicians would like you to believe that their electricity comes from non-coal sources. However, while there are very few coal plants in California, making up only 0.4 percent of the state's generation in 2014, California imports electricity from neighboring states and as much as half of Southern California's electric generation comes from coal-fired generating plants in Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona.


gkam
1 / 5 (12) Apr 03, 2017
Sorry, but that reference is from a pressure group, not anything valid.

It is solid right-wing nonsense.

And the large plant at Four Corners is closing.
Eikka
4.5 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2017
Sorry, but that reference is from a pressure group, not anything valid.


So you're saying that the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) is lying?

That's who they're referencing.
gkam
1 / 5 (10) Apr 03, 2017
No, they are not. That reference is for the fact only 0.4% is coal.

The rest are the "Daily Caller", and the pressure group of Capitalists trying to save their investments in dirty power.

I suggest you try to fool the goobers on your side.
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2017
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
No coal burning in California.
wrong again
http://www.energy...coal.pdf

6% COAL

also note in that PDF - just because you're importing power from other states doesn't mean you're free of coal either as it's still using coal to produce CA power

also note: it isn't some random site or "pressure group" - it's from your own state

we can also drag up EPA references that demonstrate you're lying - but you won't accept that evidence since you're either biased, delusional or you think everyone else is attacking you

per your own request then...
gkam
1 / 5 (11) Apr 03, 2017
From the SCPPA:

"Exiting San Juan Unit 3 will eliminate coal from SCPPA's combined portfolio. Unit 3 will close permanently on December 31, 2017."
Eikka
5 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2017
No, they are not. That reference is for the fact only 0.4% is coal.


I'm sorry, but you're simply wrong, and you're misrepresenting the source.

This is what they're referencing:
https://www.snl.c...18-14128
at times, as much as 50% of Southern California's electricity still comes from coal-fired plants, Steve Homer, director of project management for the Southern California Public Power Authority, or SCPPA, told SNL Energy.
Eikka
5 / 5 (5) Apr 03, 2017
From the SCPPA:

"Exiting San Juan Unit 3 will eliminate coal from SCPPA's combined portfolio. Unit 3 will close permanently on December 31, 2017."


Yes. They no longer have a stake in it.

SCPPA Participation
Five SCPPA participants own 41.8% of Unit 3 at the San Juan Generating Station (approximately 207.75 MW), a coalfired plant in New Mexico.


That doesn't mean they will stop buying coal power. It will just be owned by someone else.

Again you're misrepresenting your sources.
Eikka
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 03, 2017
The San Juan generating station will continue running units 1 and 4 unti 2052, and California will keep buying the power until further notice.

I suggest you try to fool the goobers on your side.


The irony is that the IER is on your side in this matter: they're pointing out that California is buying coal power while the politicians pretend that they're not using coal power. That is something that needs to stop.

But here you are denying that the problem exists, because of your own ego rather than any concern for the environment.
gkam
1 / 5 (12) Apr 03, 2017
Nope, I would plug all the coal plants if I could.
EmceeSquared
3.2 / 5 (9) Apr 03, 2017
Actually that California "Tracking Progress" report shows that the state is now engaged in closing all coal electricity plants except a tiny one of 63MW in San Bernadino, about 0.02% of the state's load. So practically "no coal burning in California". For politician's that's about exactly 0%.

Meanwhile the report also discusses the coal burned out of state to sell electricity in CA. That's bought principally from IPP in Utah, which the CA utilities are working on cancelling 2 years early, in 2025. Purchases from NM are ending in 2018, 4 years early. Leaving only 55 MW bought from Turlock, OR, which is even less than 0.02%, so again practically 0%.

The report also describes how CA's elimination of coal is pressuring the whole coal industry to end electricity production. Californians like gkam are the reason that CA is now locked into practically eliminating coal in the immediate future, as well as chasing it out of the rest of the country.
Eikka
5 / 5 (5) Apr 04, 2017
Californians like gkam are the reason that CA is now locked into practically eliminating coal in the immediate future, as well as chasing it out of the rest of the country.


How is that true, when "Californians like gkam" come about saying that coal is already eliminated when it's not? They would lie that the mission is already accomplished just to collect some smug brownie points.

They have the same attitude about renewables: point out the pros, completely deny the cons, even as more and more natural gas fueled powerplants are being built to support the system.

WillieWard
4 / 5 (4) Apr 04, 2017
"Scientists estimate that in China and India alone, more than 200,000 people die prematurely each year due to coal pollution."
Thanks to antinuclear fearmongers and faux-greens, Germany is planning to build more 20 and Japan more 45 coal plants to keep lights on when sun is not shinning or wind is not blowing.
WillieWard
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 04, 2017
No coal burning in California.
Interesting to see Eco-hypocrites defending the fracking industry that produces natural gas(methane(CH₄), a powerful greenhouse gas, 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide) to keep lights on when sun is not shinning or wind is not blowing.
"Ivanpah solar plant, built to limit greenhouse gases, is burning more natural gas"
http://www.pe.com...pah.html
"Sierra Club admits donations targeting a natural gas competitor"
http://atomicinsi...petitor/
gkam
1 / 5 (10) Apr 04, 2017
Eikka, we understand the negatives against renewables, . . mainly attitudes like yours.

To make it not just possible but practical, and now, economically beneficial, we had to surmount the problems, . . and did so.

Understand we believe in saving the Earth, even if you do not, and are ready to do our own personal part for it.
geokstr
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 05, 2017
"Air pollution is correlated to higher crime rates, while criminal behavior itself can now be controlled with 250mg of human adult male facial skin surface lipid pheromone, there is no point in exacerbating the situation."


Any cites for the bizarre pheromone lie? If that were true, we should empty the prisons, all of them, right next to your house.

And correlation is not causation.

Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Apr 05, 2017
To quote myself: "They would lie that the mission is already accomplished just to collect some smug brownie points."

Observe, point in case:

To make it not just possible but practical, and now, economically beneficial, we had to surmount the problems, . . and did so.
gkam
1 / 5 (9) Apr 05, 2017
Send me a temporary email account, Eikka, and I'll send you the pictures.

Sorry to show your paranoiac fantasies are just that, but the truth is better.

Situations have changed but you are still in the nineteenth century as far as energy goes.

I think it is your silly ego.
EmceeSquared
2.1 / 5 (7) Apr 07, 2017
No, as I pointed out in detail, coal burning in CA is practically eliminated. <0.02% from one tiny remaining plant is close enough to declare victory in the real world.

I also don't see them "completely denying the cons". I do see them pointing out that the cons are so much lower than the pros, and far less than the cons of the filthy fuels they replace.

For example, natgas is still a Greenhouse problem, but far less than the other fuels - chiefly coal - it replaces. The US electric grid is 24% less a Greenhouse problem than just a dozen years ago, primarily by natgas replacing coal.

In the real world big, complex problems are solved piece by piece. And in the real world the people who fight the solution pieces every step are the problem with 0.02% of the problem remaining, because they continue to troll without any sense of proportion. The people who accept 0.02% as victory and move to the next piece are the solution.

How is that true [...]
EmceeSquared
2.1 / 5 (7) Apr 07, 2017
Defending a reduction in Greenhouse pollution is not hypocrisy, even if the solution isn't yet perfect. In the real world solutions have to start somewhere, and banking major progress even if not completely solved is typically the way forward. The US electric grid is 24% less Greenhouse polluting in just a dozen years because less harmful natgas is replacing terrible coal.

I suppose you're also against medicine with side effects. But really you're just trolling, as is easily spotted from your introductory "interesting" and your baseless charge of hypocrisy. As for actual hypocrisy, what have you done to stop fracking?

WillieWard:
Interesting to see Eco-hypocrites defending the fracking industry

EmceeSquared
2.1 / 5 (8) Apr 07, 2017
Er, those "fearmongers" in Japan are spending more lifetimes cleaning up their years long ongoing meltdowns than their families have lived in Japan. That other dirty fuels are their alternative is the fault of people who fought renewable energy industries every step since the 1970s. The nukes industry and its colluding oil/gas industries - and their religious devotees - are entirely to blame, not the people who have fought uphill to avoid these catastrophic risks that are now coming home to roost.

WillieWard:
"Scientists estimate that in China and India alone

WillieWard
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2017
Intermittent renewable is a joke by itself, not even Greenpeace relies on windmills and solar panels to propel their ship and motorboats across the oceans, they trust in marine diesel. Germany Energiewende is an expensive fiasco in terms of CO2 reduction.
http://jonova.s3....-web.jpg
https://pbs.twimg...KPqS.jpg
WillieWard
3 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2017
"Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, France – that already have near-zero-emission electricity ... all of them use large amounts of hydroelectricity, nuclear power, or both."
"Rather than follow the only proven path to clean electricity, the Greens propose that Australia should emulate Germany's Energiewende policy."
"But both Germany's total greenhouse emissions and the carbon intensity of its electricity have plateaued, despite record investments in renewable energy."
"German emissions intensity remains an order of magnitude higher than those of the nuclear/hydro countries such as Switzerland and France."
"Germany's problem is that it has had to back up its intermittent wind and solar generation with fossil fuels."
"The Greens promise that canny Australian engineers will succeed where Germans have failed" i.e. faux-greens believe in their own lies to impose their dogmas on others.
https://theconver...ed-61285
gkam
1 / 5 (9) Apr 07, 2017
Willie, . . . hey, ,. Willie!

They need you at Fukushima.
WillieWard
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2017
They need you at Fukushima.
In Fukushima (20 mSv), you receive less radiation than flying in an airplane (65 mSv).
"Aircraft crew have higher ionizing radiation exposures than nuclear plant workers."
"Pilots and flight attendants have the greatest workplace exposure to radiation, even higher than nuclear power plant workers, according to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements."
"A worker's individual exposure will depend on the time spent at altitude, but if a person spent all year flying in a plane, the average radiation dose would be about 65 milliSieverts (mSv) per year in the 5 years around the solar minimum, compared to about 56 mSv during the last minimum and at least 45 mSv during the solar maximum of the previous cycle, according to the new study."
https://blogs.agu...-levels/
gkam
1 / 5 (9) Apr 07, 2017
Well, here we go:

http://www.japant...fUqK1u70
"The radiation level in the containment vessel of reactor 2 at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant has reached a maximum of 530 sieverts per hour, the highest since the triple core meltdown in March 2011, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. said."

"The searing radiation level, described by some experts as "unimaginable," far exceeds the previous high of 73 sieverts per hour at the reactor."

and here:

http://www.scienc...climbing
WillieWard
4 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2017
Well, here we go:
Inside a microwave oven, according to some experts, the microwave radiation can reach "unimaginable" levels enough to kill you in few seconds, so please do not put your head inside a microwave oven.
gkam
1 / 5 (8) Apr 07, 2017
The world is your microwave oven, Willie, with the widespread contamination for which your nuclear ilk are responsible.
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2017
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
Well, here we go:
https://www.youtu...;t=1428s

The world is your microwave oven, Willie, with the widespread contamination for which your nuclear ilk are responsible.
per your own request to clean up the site...

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