The Health Cost of Coal

Air pollution from coal-fired power plants has severe daily and long-term negative impacts on the residents of the province of Muğla. Due to the dispersion of pollution, it also affects people in other geographies.

 Residents have been strongly articulating their concerns and complaints about the severe pollution the coal power plants cause, for decades. However, it is not possible to expose all the aspects of these regional health issues using official and healthy statistical data because public health data is not accessible to the public.

 

Although up-to-date data is not accessible, several scientific studies suggest that the main health issues in the region are linked to the environmental pollution created by the coal-fired power plants and coal mines, and recommend taking measures and conducting further studies.

 

For example, a report published by the Turkish Medical Association in 2000 determined that the number of patients hospitalized due to respiratory diseases in Yatağan is more than twice the number of those from Muğla city center, where air quality is relatively better.

According to the modelling study conducted for The Real Costs of Coal, coal in Muğla imposes a very heavy burden on human health:

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The total number of premature deaths caused by the three coal-fired power plants in Yatağan from the time when the first coal-fired power plant became operational in 1983 until the end of 2017 is estimated to be 45,000;

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Currently, air pollution from coal-fired power plants causes 280 premature deaths per year; and a total of 61,000 disease and premature death-related job losses.

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If every coal-fired power plant remains operational for 50 years, the air pollution they cause will lead to 5,300 additional premature deaths, even if environmental investments comply with regulations.

This dark picture does not include the impacts of several environmental factors such as other pollution sources, namely lignite mines’ dust emissions that far exceed power plants’ stack and flue gas emissions, volatile organic compounds, water, soil and food pollution caused by heavy metals and radioactive materials from ash and other waste.

© 2018 Climate Action Network Europe