The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has ranked the health effects of coal-fired power stations in Australia.
The Institute’s annual survey of the health impacts of coal in Australia, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found the Australian government’s approval of coal as a fuel source had been responsible for over 80,000 premature deaths in Australia over the past 15 years.
The most recent report from the Institute’s Australian Health Foundation (AHF) found that coal consumption was the leading cause of premature death among Australian adults aged 20-64 years in 2015.
Coal power stations are the largest source of carbon emissions in Australia and emit about 40 per cent of Australia’s CO2 emissions, according to the report.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 946 coal-burning power stations operating in 2015, with an average capacity of 7.8 million megawatts, and an annual carbon dioxide emissions of about 1.5 billion tonnes.
The health effects associated with coal have been well documented, but the extent to which coal has been associated with human health has not yet been quantified.
The report says that the impact of coal is “significantly higher” than other fossil fuels.
According the report, coal-burner health impacts included premature death and long-term respiratory problems, increased cancer risk and reduced lifespan, among other health effects.
The impact of the coal industry on air quality The health impacts associated with fossil fuel emissions are also well documented.
According a 2016 report by the Australian Research Council, the health benefits of coal were found to be “significant” in areas of the world where coal production is relatively low and the country has an abundance of water.
“Compared with other fossil fuel combustion sources, the air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning coal are significantly higher,” the report states.
“There is evidence that coal combustion emits more CO2 than other fuels, and that coal burning causes more CO 2 than other sources of energy.”
The AFRC report said the health impact of CO2 from coal was comparable to the impact from methane, but also compared to the impacts from carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and heavy metals.
“A high-quality analysis of the CO2 released by coal combustion and the health implications of coal combustion could potentially contribute to reducing the harmful effects of CO 2 emissions on the environment,” the AFRS report states, adding that “coal-fired electricity generation has been found to have significant health impacts in the general population.”