A new report suggests that coal fired power stations are damaging the health of populations and are thus costing millions in health provision. Romania’s bill is the second highest in the EU, estimated at up to EUR 6.4 million a year, with only Poland ahead at up to an annual EUR 8.2 million in health expenses related to coal fired power stations. The cost to the EU as a whole is estimated at over EUR 42.8 million each year.
“Our report offers the scientific evidence on the health impacts of coal and provides vital information from a health perspective that should be taken into account when determining energy policy,” says Genon Jensen, Executive Director at the Health & Environment Alliance (HEAL), which published the report and brings together more than 70 networks and groups in 26 European countries.
The report, published today (March 7), shows that air pollution from burning coal at power stations can be a factor in a variety of lung and cardiac conditions. The recent increases in energy production from coal fired power stations is worrying, believes HEAL, and outdoor air pollution overall is responsible for 492,000 premature deaths every year the EU.
Ironically, the increased use in coal fired power station emissions coincides with the EU’s Year of Air 2013. The Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), which represents doctors in the EU, will be raising awareness of the risks of coal burning as part of its work underlining the importance of cleaner air. “European doctors know air pollution to be an important risk factor for health and the CPME has a long-standing interest in this topic. Health professionals are committed to bringing new evidence-based information to the public as well as to decision makers and using their voice to bring about policy changes,” said CPME Secretary General Birgit Beger.
HEAL and other research and pressure groups hope that Europe’s decision makers will heed the warnings when setting energy policies across the continent. “The EU has committed to protect public health from air pollution as well as from climate change impacts. As the use of coal in Europe is currently increasing, there is a significant threat to people’s health in the short and long term,” said MEP Peter Liese, who is also a doctor.
The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a European not-for-profit organization that assesses how the environment affects health in the EU. It has over 65 member organizations, including health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, patients, citizens, women, youth and environmental experts. Members include international and Europe-wide organizations, as well as national and local groups. HEAL offers independent expertise and evidence from the health community to the public and to policy makers.
photo source: sxc.hu