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Living with the legacy of Coal

Author: John F Stolz

Abstract: Coal has played a crucial role in the advancement of humankind and the development of civilization. It fueled the industrial revolution, the creation of the electrical grid that powers developed countries and helped build Pittsburgh into a major American city. This legacy, however, is tempered by the environmental and human health costs. A major contributor to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and concomitant global warming, it has also resulted in diminished air quality with smoke and particulates, especially PM2.5. The need for proper disposal of coal combustion byproducts (CCB) produced by power plants has resulted in a number of suggested beneficial uses including soil augmentation. These applications, however, must be tempered by the understanding that microbial activity can impact the mobility and toxicity of the metals and metalloids in the CBB, increasing the risk of soil, surface water and groundwater contamination.

Journal: The Journal of Health, Environment, & Education

Volume: 10

Pages: 22-25

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