Pin It
When wet coal-ash sludge dries, it becomes toxic dust. The particulates are so small that they can burrow deeply into the lungs.

Another reason to ditch coal: the ash 

click to enlarge living_green.jpg

Duke University researchers have confirmed what many people in Kingston, Tenn., already knew: Dust and river sediment containing toxic metals and radioactivity from the Dec. 22, 2008, coal ash spill can harm human health and the environment.

The Duke study was published earlier this month in the online version of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Scientists analyzed radium, arsenic (both can cause cancer) and mercury in the wet coal-ash sludge and determined that when it dries, the sludge becomes toxic dust.

The particulates are so small—the size of bacteria—that they can burrow deeply into the lungs. People with lung infections, asthma, emphysema and even diabetes are particularly at risk. While federal and Tennessee environmental officials say their monitoring hasn't detected airborne dust at levels above national air quality standards, that doesn't mean the dust isn't present.

Even the fish are threatened. Mercury in the water breaks down into methylmercury, which accumulates in fish tissue. People who eat the fish also risk accumulating unsafe levels of methylmercury in their bodies.

North Carolina has 12 containment ponds, which combined contain 1.3 million tons of coal ash. Duke Energy and Progress Energy own the ponds. (See "EPA rates 12 N.C. coal residue impoundments with a 'high hazard potential'.")

"There are hundreds of similar coal-ash storage ponds located in the United States, and all are located next to rivers," Avner Vengosh, associate professor of earth and ocean sciences at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment said in a release about the study. "Yet the water in these containment ponds is not regulated."

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Living Green

More by Lisa Sorg

Facebook Activity

Twitter Activity

Comments

After a lot of hard work and dedication by Citizenre senior staff, Citizenre closed on $20 million in financing (

by ltaylor on Rent the sun's power (Living Green)

ROBOTICALLY GROW SOLAR `~'

Very large solar capacity will have to be mass produced by robotic assembly lines HERE …

by fireofenergy on Form a sun bloc at solar energy discussion (Living Green)

Most Read

Latest videos from the INDY

© 2015 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation