Air PollutionCoal-firedpower plants supply 50 percent of the nation’s electricity, but these plantsalso produce air pollution.
Coal plants emit approximately 87 percent ofnitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, 94 percent of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 98percent of mercury pollution. Compared with others, coal plants are the largestsource of sulfur dioxide, mercury and air toxic emissions and second largestsource of nitrogen oxide pollution. These pollutants emitted from coal plantsare combined to form secondary pollutants such as ozone and particulate matterthat are dangerous to public health.Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) In United State, coal plants are thelargest source of SO2 pollution, which is dangerous to public health. It formssmall acidic particulates by combining with air that is dangerous to humanlungs and also absorbed by bloodstream. An uncontrolled coal plants emit 14,100tons of SO2 per year and an controlled coal plants emits 3,300 tons of NOx peryear.Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) NOxpollution causes ozone, or smog, which causes eye, nose, throat and chronicrespiratory diseases. An uncontrolled coal plant emits 10,300 tons of NOx peryear while a controlled coal plant emits 3,300 tons of NOx per year.
Particulate Matter Particulate matter (also referred assoot or fly ash) causes eye, bronchitis, lungs, heart and chronic respiratorydiseases, premature death. An uncontrolled coal plant emits 500 tons of smallairborne particles each year. Baghouse (installed inside coal plant) cancapture 99 percent of the particulates. Coal plants are responsible for nearly24,000 deaths each year.Mercury In U.S. coal plants cause more than halfemission of mercury.
It causes brain damage, heart problems, learningdisabilities and attention deficit disorders in childhood. An uncontrolled coalplant emits approximately 170 pounds of mercury each year. Activated carbontechnology can minimize mercury emission up to 90 percent when combined withbaghouses, Just 1/70th of mercury deposited on 25-acre make the fishunsafe to eat. Radiation Exposure Coal contains low level of uranium,thorium and other naturally occurring radioactive isotopes that leads toradioactive contamination of environment. These can cause human diseases andcan effect to plants and crops. Emitted radiation by coal-derived fly ashdelivers 100 times more to the environment than normal productive nuclearplant.
The 1000-MWe coal-fired power plant emits nuclear radiation dose of 490person-rem/year, compared to 136 person-rem/year for other nuclear power plantincluding uranium mining, reactor operation and waste disposal.River Water Pollution Coal power plant produces ash containingcalcium oxide (CaO). CaO dissolves in water forming slaked lime Ca(OH)2 andcarried by acid rain to rivers. It removes temporary hardness of water butincreases sodium ions (by converting sodium bicarbonates into sodiumcarbonates) that converts the fertile land into alkaline soil.Ozone Pollution Ozonepollution (known as smog) is formed when NOx reacts with volatile organiccompounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight. In U.S.
one third populationsliving in unhealthful ozone levels areas. Smog can cause health problems like;respiratory diseases, coughing, wheezing, chest pain and premature death.Global Warming Coal-fired power plants are significantsource of carbon dioxide emissions, producing approximately 40 percent of totalU.S. carbon dioxide pollution.
Carbon dioxide has no direct effect on humanhealth but it can harm global warming that can cause different diseases inhuman. World Health Organization estimates that approximately 150,000 deaths occurreddue to climate change.