When it comes to cardiovascular health, it turns out that all types of carbon pollution are not created equal. A recent study, focusing on information provided by the American Cancer Society of 450,000 people who lived in polluted areas between 1982 and 2004, indicates that exposure to emissions produced by coal-fired plants is worse on the heart than other forms of CO2 emissions. As the Washington Post reports below, Aruni Bhatnagar, a University of Louisville professor of cardiovascular medicine and a volunteer with the American Heart Association, called was surprised by the study's findings surprising because of the long-held assumption in previous studies. Before now, there had been been expert guesses that coal emissions could be “more toxic than other particles,” Bhatnagar said. And now we're finding evidence that it's true. Are you a health professional concerned about energy sources and health overlaps? Team up with Climate for Health today.
By Darryl Fears I December 2, 2015
Exposure to emissions from coal-fired power plants over a long period of time is significantly more harmful to the heart than other forms of carbon pollution, a new study says.
The risk of death from heart disease, including heart attacks, was five times as high for people who breathed pollution from coal emissions over 20 years than for those who were exposed to other types of air pollution, according to the study’s findings. The burning of coal releases fine particles with a potent mix of toxins, including arsenic and selenium.
“Our results indicate that, pound for pound, coal-burning particles contribute roughly five times as much to heart disease mortality risk as the average air pollution particle in the United States,” said George D. Thurston, a professor of population health and environmental medicine at New York University and lead author of the study.
Thurston and the study’s 10 other authors said that their findings should end assumptions in previous studies that carbon “particles have the same toxicity, irrespective of their source.”
And they said the findings show the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to strengthen regulation of power plant emissions standards — as part of the White House’s Clean Power Plan — does not go far enough.
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