Health Impacts of Coal Mining | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Health Impacts of Coal Mining

In eastern Kentucky our water, land and air are contaminated by mountaintop removal. Volumes of scientific studies illustrate the harm to human health from exposure to dust and numerous toxins released into the air and water by surface mining.

In recent years, several peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated that:

  • people living near mountaintop mining have cancer rates of 14.4% compared to 9.4% for people elsewhere in Appalachia
  • the rate of children born with birth defects was 42% higher in areas near mountaintop removal mining
  • the public health costs of pollution from coal operations in Appalachia amount to a staggering $75 billion a year

Surface and ground water near mountaintop removal carries elevated levels of heavy metals and carcinogens that can persist for decades after mining ceases. Scientists have found evidence that soil has also been affected, most likely by the large amounts of diesel fuel used in blasting. And airborne particles near mining sites contain ammonium nitrate, silica and sulfur compounds, to name a few.