Study: Birth defects **significantly** more common in areas of strip mining/open pit/mountaintop coal mining; Health effects of related air and water contamination appear cumulative. Never forget: Courts ruled in Ernst vs AER that it is legally immune, owes no duty of care and is above Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. AER has no public health mandate and the Alberta gov’t removed its public interest mandate after the Ernst lawsuit went public. There is no authority to protect Albertans, our health, our rights and drinking water, and the feds have gone AWOL.

Comment by a rural Albertan:

That should give the Albertans that are opposing open pit coal a realistic view of AER policy and how the Supreme Court of Canada defends that policy.

The Effects of Coal Mining on Health in Appalachia: Global Context and Social Justice Implications by Adrienne Schmidt, University of Richmond, 2014


The purpose of this report is to investigate the environmental and health effects of coal mining in the Appalachian region of the United States in the context of global natural resource extraction, explore existing regulation for the reduction of negative environmental health effects of mining in Appalachia, and explore the social justice implications of current mining practices. …

It was found that there are widespread negative health effects of mining in Appalachia due to environmental toxins, a toxic social environment of limited economic opportunity, and occupational health hazards. The fate of Appalachia as a national sacrifice zone is often viewed as inevitable by the public, which allows the slow violence of environmental and health degradation to persist. The injustices that occur in Appalachia as a result of coal mining deny Appalachians the right for fair equality of opportunity.

Large numbers of birth defects seen near mountaintop mining operations by Eric Sorensen, Washington State University, June 23, 2011, Science Daily

Summary: Birth defects are significantly more common in areas of mountaintop coal mining and are on the rise as the practice becomes more common, according to a new study.

Birth defects are significantly more common in areas of mountaintop coal mining and are on the rise as the practice becomes more common, according to a study by researchers at Washington State University and West Virginia University.

The researchers, led by Melissa Ahern, health economist and associate professor in WSU’s College of Pharmacy, found 235 birth defects per 10,000 births where mountaintop mining is most common in four central Appalachian states. That’s nearly twice the rate of 144 defects per 10,000 in non-mining areas.

Previous studies have found low birth weights and increased levels of adult disease and death in coal mining areas. This study offers one of the first indications that health problems are disproportionately concentrated specifically in mountaintop mining areas.

The findings “contribute to the growing evidence that mountaintop mining is done at substantial expense to the environment, to local economies and to human health,” the authors conclude in the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research.

The study is based on an analysis of more than 1.8 million birth records between 1996 and 2003. It compared the incidence of birth defects in mountaintop mining areas, other mining areas and areas without mining.

Mountaintop mining involves using explosives to remove ridges and deposit the rock and soil in nearby valleys. More than 2,700 mountain ridges, as well as thousands of rivers, have been destroyed or altered by the technique in portions of eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, southern West Virginia, and southwestern Virginia. Peer-reviewed research has documented elevated levels of pollutants in these areas, including mercury, lead, and arsenic.

Driven by an increased demand for the fuel, including cleaner low-sulfur coal, this type of mining increased 250 percent between 1985 and 2005.

The study found counties in and near mountaintop mining areas had higher rates of birth defects for five out of six types of birth defects, including circulatory/respiratory , central nervous system, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and urogenital defects. These defect rates became more pronounced in the more recent period studied, 2000-2003, suggesting the health effects of mountaintop mining-related air and water contamination may be cumulative.

Residents of the region tend to have less education, less prenatal care, more smoking and more alcohol use during pregnancy. But after controlling for socioeconomic and behavioral risks, the researchers still found residents in mountaintop mining areas had significantly higher rates of birth defects.

Refer also to:

New study: Fossil fuels caused 8.7 million deaths globally in 2018, one in five of all people who died that year, exceeds combined total who die globally each year from smoking tobacco plus those who die of malaria. “Without fossil fuel emissions…global economic and health costs would fall by about $2.9tn.”

Feb 25, 2021, 7 – 8:30 pm: Expert panel on infectious lung disease and air pollution (especially important for those living/working in/near Alberta’s toxic tarsands, coal mining and or in frac zones)

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