Thursday, August 04, 2016

Feds to fund $1 million study on effects of mountaintop removal on Central Appalachia health

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) announced on Wednesday that it will fund a $1 million study to examine links between surface coal mines in Central Appalachia and increased health risks of residents living near those mines. The study will be conducted over a two-year period by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Last year the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection requested the review. Similar studies are also being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Researchers like Dr. Michael Hendryx, professor at Indiana University's School of Public Health, have been studying a link between mountaintop removal coal mining and Appalachian health for years. Hendryx's research has sparked debate in the past.

A 2012 report by Appalachian Voices found that Kentucky and West Virginia lead the nation in cancer and lung cancer deaths, with as many as 60,000 cancer deaths in those states linked to mountaintop removal, because of greater exposure to pollution. (Appalachian Voices graphic)
The report found that areas with mountaintop removal have lower life expectancy rates and "significantly higher mortality rates from heart disease than other parts of Appalachia with similar levels of poor health, smoking and poverty." The report also states that "more than 700 additional deaths from heart disease occur annually in areas with mountaintop removal compared to areas of Appalachia without mining."

No comments: