The Link Between Coal and Respiratory Diseases

By path2positive

Health leaders know that asthma and lung cancer are linked to air pollution. In states that are heavily reliant on coal power, air pollution is especially severe. Kentucky, for example, generates eighty-eight percent of its power from coal; the state is also among the worst in the nation for air quality, leads on lung cancer deaths, and has asthma rates that are higher than the national average for almost every age group.

By replacing coal power with clean energy, we can take steps to ensure a healthier future for our planet, and for our loved ones. As former Kentucky Representative and Attorney General Ben Chandler says, by “investing in clean energy and taking action against the causes of climate change, [we can] build a renewable energy economy, and we all breathe a little easier." For more ways we can act on a healthier, more sustainable future, join us on the Path to Positive.

Make Kentucky Healthier With Renewable Energy 

Ben Chandler | Courier-Journal | February 17, 2016 

Until a few years ago, my father was in good shape. Today, he can’t walk from room to room without losing his breath and needs an oxygen tank with him at all times. Like so many Kentucky residents, he has severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that leaves him feeling as if he’s breathing through a sticky, wet towel. It’s my dad who suffers the most, and yet watching a loved one struggle takes a toll on the whole family.

Ours is a familiar story for too many families in Kentucky. Our state has asthma rates that are higher than the national average for nearly every age group. The Department of Public health estimates that almost 20 percent of Kentucky’s adults suffer from asthma. We lead the nation in lung cancer deaths.

These devastating diseases are tied to Kentucky’s high smoking rates, yes, but compounding that problem is air pollution — another area where Kentucky stands out. Air quality in the Bluegrass State is among the worst in the nation and that has a great deal to do with where we get our electricity. Kentucky generates 88 percent of its power from coal-fired plants. Because we’re nestled right in the Ohio Valley, there’s nowhere for that air pollution to go but into our lungs.

Imagine if we replaced coal with cleaner sources of energy that drastically reduce the chances of our loved ones suffering from a deadly lung disease. Solar and other renewable forms of energy do not emit carbon dioxide or other pollutants that eat away at our lungs and harm the planet.

Read more


Stay connected and get updates from Climate for Health.


You May Also Like

September 23, 2020

On September 22, 2020, the first day of autumn, an equinox occurred marking when the sun passed directly over the earth’s equator. Prior to and...

Read More

September 22, 2020

In the present moment, and mere days before World Environmental Health Day on September 26, the intersection between climate change and preparedness is, sadly, quite...

Read More

September 20, 2020

In the midst of a global pandemic, with climate disasters raging across the country, many Americans are laser focused on one date: November 3. “The...

Read More


Climate for Health is a program of ecoAmerica


© ecoAmerica 2006 – 2020 The contents of this website may be shared and used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 4.0 International License.