Tuesday, December 03, 2013

1,600 Premature Deaths a Year - by Air Pollution from the Coal Power Plants in the United Kingdom

British coal power plants cause 1,600 premature deaths, 68,000 additional days of medication, 363,266 working days lost each year and more than a million incidents of lower respiratory symptoms, according to an expert assessment commissioned by Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

Link to the article on Click Green.

HEAL Briefing: What does coal cost health in the United Kingdom?

The timing of the release coincides with an important debate on the future of coal power generation taking place in the House of Commons on Wednesday. A vote on the energy bill will decide whether a House of Lords’ amendment is upheld setting targets on greenhouse gas emission reductions for old coal power stations.

Press release by HEAL.

The setting of carbon emissions standards is needed to hasten the clean-up of plants that are both important polluters and major contributors to climate change.

HEAL - Coal and health postcard

The new figures quantifying the health impact of coal burning to create electricity in the UK are published today as part of a wider project which shows the unpaid burden of coal on public health in Europe.

HEAL’s main report published earlier this year entitled, “The Unpaid Health Bill, How coal power plants make us sick” estimated total health costs in the European Union at up to €43 billion per year. The UK health costs were estimated at £1.5 to 3.3 billion (€1.3 to 3.7 billion) per year, ranking number six among EU member states.

“Rapidly growing evidence of how coal affects air pollution and our health is pushing this issue onto centre stage in the energy debate,” said Genon Jensen, Executive Director, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

A Cycle Ride to Protest Air Pollution in London

“Our report has had a great response from energy ministers and health professionals who are increasingly aware that coal is costly for public health. The time is now ripe to bring the health facts and figures into national debates and cost assessments. Wednesday’s vote in the UK offers a unique opportunity to cash in huge health co-benefits.”

The briefing by HEAL further highlights the contribution of coal to EU carbon emissions, and the urgent need to tackle climate change from a health perspective.

Climate change impacts are estimated to be already causing 400,000 deaths each year worldwide. The summer heat wave of 2003, which can be seen as a foretaste of climatic changes in Europe, led to 2,045 excess deaths in England and Wales within two weeks.

Advocating Tighter Emission Control Standards for Coal-fired Power Plants in India

Dr Michal Krzyzanowski, visiting professor at King’s College London and formerly with the European Centre for Environment & Health (ECEH) of the World Health Organization, said: “The scientific evidence that air pollution causes disease is no longer in doubt.

Move Over Climate Change: Air Pollution is the New Issue in Town (The Guardian)

“Ambient air pollution is recognised as a leading determinant of health globally and in Western Europe – and coal combustion is an important source of this pollution. Energy policy must seriously consider the significant health costs resulting from the use of coal.”

Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (The Lancet)

And Professor Paul Wilkinson, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) added: “The external costs to health from coal power generation are bigger than for any other energy source. The costs of reducing greenhouse gases are partially paid back because of lower health costs.”

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