The study, conducted by the West Virginia University School of Medicine, surveyed residents of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia by telephone and "asked questions about how many poor mental and physical health days they had experienced in the previous 30 days," reports Pam Kasey of The State Journal in West Virginia. "Residents of mountaintop mining counties reported, on average, 18 more unhealthy days per year than did the other populations."
“We don’t know exactly how this (mining) affects the air and water,” co-author Michael Hendryx, associate professor in the medical school's Department of Community Medicine, told Kasey. "Hendryx published a controversial study in 2009 that found better health and greater economic prosperity in Appalachian counties with no coal mining than in those with coal mining operations," Kasey notes. "He and a co-author concluded in that study that the costs of illness and premature death outweigh the economic benefits of the coal industry. A National Mining Association-commissioned an analysis of that 2009 study suggested that it had failed to consider the effects of obesity, diabetes and alcohol consumption." (Read more)