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Silent killer: air pollution from burning coal kills 279 in NSW each year

By November 21, 2018 May 27th, 2019 Air Pollution, Media releases, Uncategorized

An independent study released today has found that air pollution produced by New South Wales coal-fired power stations cause 279 deaths in the state every year.

The study of the health impacts of air pollution from coal-fired power stations undertaken by epidemiologist and researcher Dr Benjamin Ewald is the first of its kind in Australia.

In addition to the shocking mortality figures, Dr Ewald’s analysis found that 233 babies are born with a low birth weight (less than 2.5kg), and 369 people in NSW develop Type 2 diabetes due to air pollution from burning coal for power.

“It’s shocking to think that based on the current operating life of the five power stations, the air pollution they produce will kill 3,429 more people,” Dr Ben Ewald said today.

“As a Newcastle doctor, I knew that air pollution from coal fired power stations is harming local communities. But as a researcher, I never imagined that the scale of their impact would be so severe. Literally hundreds of people are dying premature deaths every year because of coal-fired power,”Dr Ewald continued.

Commissioned by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA), the study coincides with the review of pollution licences for the Vales Point, Eraring and Mt Piper power stations. Air pollution from burning coal for power kills people through stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections.

EJA Director of Advocacy and Research Nicola Rivers said, “The State Government must act immediately to safeguard community health. There are pollution control measures available now that could cut emissions of toxic pollutants like sulfur dioxide, mercury and oxides of nitrogen by up to 98%.

“NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton and Energy Minister Don Harwin must mandate pollution control measures to drastically reduce the amount of toxic air pollution these power stations produce. Until they do, the State Government is in effect giving coal-fired power stations a licence to harm, a licence to kill,” Ms Rivers concluded.

See here for a copy of the full report. Topline numbers below.

Media Opportunity

Report author Dr Ben Ewald will meet a new mothers’ group in Concord at 2:15pm to talk through the report and its findings.

Interviews

Dr Ewald and Ms Rivers available for interview at any time today. To arrange further comment, call Emma Belfield 0400 181 748.

Further information

Full report and summary here.

Key Findings

Health burden attributable to individual power stations per year

POWER STATION MORTALITY FIGURES/YR LOW BIRTH WEIGHT BABIES /YR TYPE 2 DIABETES /YR
Bayswater 40 34 50
Liddell 27 22 34
Eraring 87 76 113
Vales Point 46 40 59
Mt Piper 36 35 47

 

Adverse health outcomes attributable to power stations during their remaining years of operation

POWER STATION SCHEDULED CLOSURE YEAR REMAINING YEARS TO OPERATE No. DEATHS EXPECTED BETWEEN NOW AND PLANNED CLOSURE DATE No. LOW BIRTH WEIGHT BABIES BETWEEN NOW & CLOSURE DATE No. NEW ONSET TYPE 2 DIABETES BETWEEN NOW & CLOSURE DATE
Bayswater 2035 17 685 571 857
Liddell 2022 4 107 89 134
Eraring 2032 14 1,219 1,058 1,579
Vales Point 2030 12 547 475 709
Mount Piper 2042 24 871 835 1,133
STATEWIDE TOTAL 3,429 3,029 4,412

 

Adverse health effects attributable to air pollution in the five NSW regions included in analysis

MORTALITY YEARS OF LIFE LOST LOW BIRTH WEIGHT INCIDENCE OF
TYPE 2 DIABETES
SYDNEY 153 1,433 147 199
CENTRAL COAST 25 234 16 33
LOWER HUNTER 51 477 37 63
UPPER HUNTER 7 65 6 8
REMAINDER 43 402 27 58
STATEWIDE TOTAL 279 2,614 233 361

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