Study finds particulate air pollutants from coal-fired power plants may be twice as deadly as that from other sources

Coal fired power plants

An article in the  Harvard Gazette highlights a recently published study in Nature led by George Mason University, University of Texas at Austin, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health that suggests that exposure to fine particulate air pollutants from coal-fired power plants (coal PM2.5) is associated with a risk of mortality more than double that of exposure to PM2.5 from other sources. By linking the exposure fields of 480 coal power plants to Medicare records, inclusive of where enrollees lived and when they died, the researchers were able to understand individuals’ exposure to coal PM2.5 and calculate the impact it had on their health. Moreover, they were able to quantify deaths attributable to specific power plants, creating a publicly available online tool.  Study co-author Professor Francesca Dominici suggests that the findings of the study will be a key resource for future policymakers and regulators weighing the need for cheap energy with environmental and health costs.