Coal Ash Threatens Our Children’s Health

BY ON October 1, 2013
coal ash wastewater

Coal ash wastewater.


I find it both beautiful and terrifying that our world is such a delicate balance. Yet, we as humans have thrown it off. It’s terrifying because of what our future will be if we deny the inevitability of man-made pollution that leads to climate change. It’s beautiful because we have the tools to protect our children and grandchildren by regulating the largest source of pollution – power plants.

Did you know the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed 18 sites around the United States as sources of coal ash contamination from coal-fired power plants? That’s great, but according to the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), these 18 sites only scratch the surface of the pollution caused by coal ash dumps.

Why should we care about coal ash? Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. The waste is then dumped into unlined ponds or mines where it can easily leach into the drinking water supplies.

Who is regulating coal ash? Last July, House bill H.R.2218 was passed to effectively preclude the regulation of coal ash. This leaves it up to individual States to determine how each would deal with the pollution. Thus, leaving our country a veritable patchwork of standards.

Does this bill protect our children from coal ash contamination? An opponent of the bill, California Democrat Henry Waxman, thinks not. He said the debate was about…

…whether or not we are going to allow coal ash disposal sites to contaminate our water supplies and threaten human health, ‘not’ a war on coal or putting a stigma on coal ash.”

These are the health impacts from the toxic chemicals in coal ash:

  • Mercury: the brain and spine of children, infants and fetuses are the most at risk.
  • Chromium: inhalation can cause asthma and lung cancer; ingestion can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers, anemia and stomach cancer.
  • Selenium: an excess can result in a glut of neurological effects including, but not limited to, impaired vision, paralysis and death.
  • Lead: it is accepted that there is NO SAFE level of lead exposure, especially in children.
  • Arsenic: inhalation or absorption through the skin can cause lung and skin cancers respectively.

Please support the EPA’s new rules that would place limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

Isn’t it beautiful to be part of the solution?


TOPICS: Coal, EPA, Mercury Poisoning, Toxics