Researchers found that mining of coal contributes to heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic respiratory diseases, four of the five leading causes of death in the U.S. In particular, burning coal contributes to diseases affecting large portions of the U.S., including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. It also impairs lung development, increases heart-attack risk and hinders intellectual development. The report adds to previous correlation studies suggesting possible links between mountaintop mining and increased rates of disease in Appalachia by University of West Virginia public-health professor Michael Hendryx.
Physicians for Social Responsibility makes several recommendations, including reducing carbon dioxide emissions "as deeply and as swiftly as possible," ending construction of new coal-fired power plants, reduction of fossil fuel use and the development of renewable energy sources. (Read more)