PARIS: Lung-penetrating dust from coal-fired power plants in the European Union claims some 23,000 lives a year and racks up tens of billions of euros in health costs, an NGO report said on Tuesday. Even as the bloc shifts towards renewable sources like wind and Sun energy, coal still accounted for 18 percent of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 and a quarter of its electricity mix in 2015, said the analysis. Emissions from 257 power plants for which data was available “were associated with 22,900 premature deaths in 2013,” said the report entitled “Europe’s dark cloud: How coal-burning countries make their neighbors sick”.
There are a total of 280 coal-fired plants. The study was compiled by researchers from four green energy lobby groups: the Health and Environment Alliance, the WWF, Climate Action Network Europe and Sandbag. In addition to deaths, the report blamed coal plant pollution for nearly 12,000 new cases of chronic bronchitis and more than half-a-million asthma attacks in children in the EU in 2013.
The medical treatment required, as well as reduced productivity caused by absence from work, amassed “substantial costs” of 32.4 billion to 62.3 billion euros ($36 billion to $70 billion), said the report. About 83 percent of deaths, some 19,000 in total, were blamed on inhalation of fine particulate matter, air-borne particles so small — under 2.5 micrometres in diameter — that they can enter deep into the lungs and bloodstream.