Asthma, Heart Disease, Cancer and General Illness Found in Kentucky Mountain Top Removal Community
BEREA, Ky., March 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A study published in the Journal of Rural Health reveals that people living in communities where mountaintop removal (MTR) mining occurs experience higher levels of illness compared to non-mining areas close by.
Michael Hendryx, Chair of the Department of Health Policy, Management and Leadership in the School of Public Health, Director of West Virginia Rural Health Research Center of WVU, said, “Combined with all of the other human health and environmental studies on MTR, the weight of the evidence clearly indicates that MTR is harmful to human health.”
MTR strips mountaintops to access coal seams using explosives. Fine dust, soot, and heavy metals are released into the air and waterways.
Floyd County resident Bev May, a nurse practitioner in eastern Kentucky for 18 years says, “The excess chronic lung disease this study found in Floyd County supports my observations that dust from surface mining is not just an annoyance, but a risk to our health.”
The study came from a community participatory health survey of residents in Floyd County, Kentucky where MTR is taking place, compared with Elliott and Rowan counties with no MTR. Data shows higher reported incidences of asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; illnesses involving multiple organs; and general illness. MTR community residents also reported more serious illness and cancer deaths in family members, than residents in the non-MTR communities.
Kentucky Representative John Yarmuth and 26 other House members have introduced the Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Act (ACHE – H.R. 526) that places a moratorium on permitting for MTR pending health impact studies by the Department of Health and Human Services,
“I want my state Representative Greg Stumbo, and Representative Hal Rogers to know this: It’s not possible to destroy our mountains without destroying ourselves. It’s not possible to poison our streams without poisoning our children for untold generations to come,” states Bev May.
Deborah Payne, MPH of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation said, “We can curb these rising rates of cancer, lung and heart disease, and premature death if we have political will to do so. Kentucky’s kids should be able to grow up healthy, no matter where they live.”
SOURCE Kentucky Environmental Foundation