Personal and Environmental Health
Burning fossil fuel causes air pollution and contributes to global climate change. The drilling and extraction of fossil fuels (oil or coal) threatens pristine lands and contributes to air and water pollution in the areas where they are removed from the ground. The landscape and the surrounding community where coal is mined and where oil and gas are extracted are forever changed.
About half of the electricity produced in the United States comes from coal-fired power plants. Air pollution from the burning of coal in power plants, especially older power plants that do not use better technology, includes carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury. All of these pollutants cause significant harm to our health and to the environment.
Gasoline and car exhaust contains still more air pollutants: particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, benzene (and other carcinogenic organics but in much smaller concentrations than benzene), and ground level ozone.
How does this affect your health :
- Benzene: short-term exposure may cause skin and throat irritation; long-term exposure may cause cancer.
- Carbon Dioxide: directly contributes to global climate changes.
- Carbon Monoxide: impairs the bloods ability to carry oxygen – straining the heart and brain function. Mercury: long-term exposure impairs the nervous system and kidney function.
- Nitrogen Oxides: the main ingredient of ground level ozone; contribute to respiratory problems, acid rain, deterioration of water quality, and global climate change.
- Sulfur Dioxide: contributes to respiratory problems and acid rain; damages water, plants and buildings (accelerates decay of materials).