The future of energy has been a topic of discussion for decades. One energy source that was once popular is coal. Scientists studied four coal-fired powered plants. The good news is local residents were experiencing fewer asthma symptoms and related hospitalizations. This comes as the plants retired the energy source or had stricter emissions controls.
Good News for Kentucky health has improved as coal use declines
More good news is that the emergency department visits decreased dramatically, along with coal usage. The Courier-Journal reports researchers found that there were nearly 400 fewer hospital admissions or emergency room visits for asthma attacks in Louisville in the year following the closure and the addition of pollution controls.
In 2016, when scrubbers were installed at Mill Creek, the use of inhalers dropped 17%. There have been numerous studies showing that people who live near coal-fired power plants have more asthma symptoms and other maladies.
In Kentucky, as air quality rules changed and cheaper natural gas arrived, coal-burning declined. Utilities then began investing in retrofits in the Louisville area. The study determined that both the Cane Run and Mill Creek plants in Louisville and the two nearby plants in Indiana represented the bulk of sulfur dioxide pollution in Louisville at the time.
The decline in coal encouraging government to consider cleaner power
The study was headed by Columbia University, Professor Joan Casey. “In the United States, coal-fired power plants are going away,” she said. “Other places in the world, we are still building new coal-fired plants, and some of them are quite large. This is critical information for those places.”
Government officials can use this information now to institute stricter standards, especially when it comes to regulating coal-fired power plants. Meanwhile, it will encourage us to use cleaner power options. It was thereby improving the health of everyone who lives near these facilities.
Louisville has also seen its own local power plant pollution drastically decline. The city’s sulfur dioxide levels decreased from a high of about 149 parts per billion at one monitor near a major power plant in 2014 to 13 parts per billion.