STOKING FIRE: Mountaintop Coal Mining Leads to Birth Defects, Respiratory Illness and Other Health Problems
When Madison Minton was six months old, her parents noticed that her breathing was frequently labored. Now in second grade, the child is on eight medications for asthma and other pulmonary ailments.
“Madison’s situation is typical,” says Deborah Payne, Energy and Health Coordinator of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. “People in Eastern Kentucky often don’t have the financial capacity to move away so they live with the consequences of being downwind of a coal processing plant. This means that Madison is exposed to high quantities of dust every single day.”
Payne calls coal mining “one piece of the birth defect puzzle” and says that at every stage, coal is problematic, from its extraction, to its processing, transport, and eventual burning. “At each step there are negative health consequences for adults, children, and fetal life,” she continues.
And it’s gotten worse. As mountaintop removal [MTR] has horned-in on underground mining, the health maladies of residents of eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and southwest West Virginia — Appalachia — have begun to pile up.
Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry →