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Health impacts of coal combustion in developing countries

Severe health problems attributed to air poll ution caused by coal combustion were recorded as long ago as the tenth century in London, England. Regional and local air pollution episodes occurred in the United States until the middle of the 20 th century. With the possible exception of mercury, the US EPA has concluded that there is no compelling evidence to indicate that current emissions from coal-burning electric utilities cause human health problems. However, in many developing countries such as China, emissions from coal use can cause serious health problems, especially in homes where coal is used for heating and cooking. For example, several thousand people in the Guizhou province in southwestern China suffer from sever arsenic poisoning due to consumption of chili peppers dried over fires fueled with high-arsenic coal.

The USGS is working with scientists and medical professionals in several developing countries to provide analytical data, technical training, and modern technology such as digital maps. This information may help to minimize the health impacts of coal use in these countries.


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Page Last Modified: 15-Jun-2006@08:37