Do I live near a coal fired power plant?

Find Your Approximate Location and Potential Risk from Power Plant Pollution.

Global energy demand is constantly rising as are oil and gas prices. Against this backdrop, coal remains attractive: there are large reserves of coal and extracting it to produce electricity is relatively cheap. While coal is a promising resource from an economic standpoint, it has significant environmental impact. For example, a large coal-powered plant producing 1000 megawatts can supply electricity to 1.6 million households. However, it also discharges about 6 million tons of carbon per year, equivalent to the emissions from 2 million cars1.

Fly ash is one of the residues generated in combustion, and comprises the fine particles that rise with the flue gases. Fly ash material solidifies while suspended in the exhaust gases and is generally collected by electrostatic precipitators or filter bags. Since the particles solidify while suspended in the exhaust gases, fly ash particles are generally spherical in shape and range in size from 0.5 µm to 100 µm. Fly ashes are generally highly heterogeneous, consisting of a mixture of glassy particles. Fly ash contains trace concentrations of heavy metals and other substances that are known to be detrimental to health in sufficient quantities.2

In 2004, the Clean Air Task Force commissioned a study to quantify the deaths and other health effects attributable to the fine particle pollution from power plants. The report found that over 13,000 deaths each year are attributed to fine particle pollution from U.S. power plants. In addition fine particle pollution is also responsible for several hundred thousand asthma attacks each year. Those who are most severely affected are children and the elderly living in close proximity to these coal fired power plants.3

While state and federal actions over the last several years have had an impact in reducing power plant emissions by roughly half, more still needs to be done. One of the ways to monitor the output of coal fired power plants is for homeowners that live in close proximity (less than 1-2 miles and downwind) to get their house tested periodically. If you are a homeowner and notice that one side of your house is dirtier than the remaining sides and this "dirt" consists of black particles, you may want to contact the customer service representative at the power plant in question. If you would like an independent analysis performed, then SEMTech Solutions' Advanced Environmental Imaging Laboratory has been testing fine particle pollution for over 10 years. We are an industry leader in this field and can provide kits at no charge to those interested in our services.

If you are unsure of your proximity to a coal fired power plant, then by clicking on the map below, you will be linked to the Clean Air Task Force web site. From there you can see where these power plants are located. Furthermore, you can then click on a particular power plant in your area to view a variety of health impacts and other data, which may be important to you and your family.

 Coal Fired Power Plants and Potential Risks within the United States

1. "The place of coal in the energy mix of tomorrow"

2. "Fly ash"

3. Clean Air Task Force website;


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