The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health

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MIT Press, 2012 - Business & Economics - 229 pages
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We will not find "exposure to burning coal" listed as the cause of death on a single death certificate, but tens of thousands of deaths from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and other illnesses are clearly linked to coal-derived pollution. As politicians and advertising campaigns extol the virtues of "clean coal," the dirty secret is that coal kills. In "The Silent Epidemic," Alan Lockwood, a physician, describes and documents the adverse health effects of burning coal. Lockwood's comprehensive treatment examines every aspect of coal, from its complex chemical makeup to details of mining, transporting, burning, and disposal--each of which generates significant health concerns. He describes coal pollution's effects on the respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems, and how these problems will only get worse; explains the impact of global warming on coal-related health problems; and discusses possible policy approaches to combat coal pollution. Coal fueled the industrial revolution and has become a major source of energy in virtually every country. In the United States, almost half of the energy used to generate electricity comes from burning coal. Relatively few people are aware of the health threats posed by coal-derived pollutants, and those who are aware lack the political clout of the coal industry. Lockwood's straightforward description of coal as a health hazard is especially timely, given the barrage of marketing efforts to promote coal as part of "energy independence." His message is clear and urgent: "Coal-fired plants make people sick and die, particularly children and those with chronic illnesses, and they cost society huge amounts of money desperately needed for other purposes."

  

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The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health

User Review  - David Conn - Book Verdict

Lockwood (neurology & nuclear medicine, emeritus, SUNY Buffalo) contends that coal-derived pollutants are causing significant disease and death in the United States. About half of the nation's ... Read full review

Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction
1
Chapter 2 Coal
9
Chapter 3 The Pollutants
17
Chapter 4 From Mine to Ash
47
Chapter 5 Mitigation of Pollutants from Burning Coal
67
How Pollution DamagesCells and Tissues
85
Chapter 7 Basic Health Considerations
99
Chapter 8 Diseases of the Respiratory System
111
Chapter 10 Diseases of the Nervous System
141
Chapter 11 Health Effects on the Horizon
155
Chapter 12 Coal Global Warming and Health
165
Chapter 13 Energy and Health Care Economics
193
Chapter 14 Policy Implications
207
Glossary
221
Index
225
Copyright

Chapter 9 Diseases of the Cardiovascular System
131

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About the author (2012)

Alan H. Lockwood, M.D., is Emeritus Professor of Neurology and Nuclear Medicine at the StateUniversity of New York at Buffalo. He is the lead author of a Physicians for Social Responsibilityreport on coal's adverse health effects.

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