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June 12, 2012

Air Pollution by Location and Incremental Effect from Coal Plants

This is an update of air pollution from coal plants in the United States.


Map of coal power by state. Note: about of third of the air pollution can go thousands of miles from the plant. There is more impact on air quality and health of those near the plants. Air pollution has been improved in the USA since the 1950s and 1960s. There is still a negative effect. 24,000 coal impacted deaths and a total of 60,000 air pollution impacted deaths out of 2.5 million deaths from any cause. Cigarette smoking and obesity have larger negative effects, which is seen in West Virginia's health statistics. The bad air pollution states are ending up at or near the bottom of state health rankings.

The incremental particulate matter from 11 coal plants in Michigan

They have mapped the health effects from particulates from all coal plants based on the measurement of incremental pollution by location. They have the increased levels of health impacts in those same locations.


PM2.5 is 10-12% from coal power plants. So it is not the whole problem but eliminating that pollution source would improve health and save lives.


Analysis of PM10 by metro statistical area.


Source watch has a list of the states with the most coal power plants

Rank State # of Plants Total Capacity 2005 Power Prod. 
1    Texas          20   21,238 MW      148,759 GWh 
2    Ohio           35   23,823 MW      137,457 GWh 
3    Indiana        31   21,551 MW      123,985 GWh 
4    Pennsylvania   40   20,475 MW      122,093 GWh 
5    Illinois       32   17,565 MW       92,772 GWh 
6    Kentucky       21   16,510 MW       92,613 GWh 
7    West Virginia  19   15,372 MW       91,601 GWh 
8    Georgia        16   14,594 MW       87,624 GWh 
9    North Carolina 25   13,279 MW       78,854 GWh 
10   Missouri       24   11,810 MW       77,714 GWh 
11   Michigan       33   12,891 MW       71,871 GWh 
12   Alabama        11   12,684 MW       70,144 GWh 
13   Florida        15   11,382 MW       66,378 GWh 
14   Tennessee      13   10,290 MW       59,264 GWh 
15   Wyoming        10   6,168 MW        43,421 GWh 
16   Wisconsin      28   7,116 MW        41,675 GWh 



Daily hospitalizations in New York correlated to increased PM2.5 and Ozone pollution.

Hospitalizations for asthma increase by 1.4 times for older populations with worse PM2.5 and ozone. Daily measurements of hospitalization and air pollution levels.

Cities with worse PM2.5 have people with lower life expectancy. This shows that improving by 10% on PM2.5 would save lives and improve public health.







Over 100 pages on how the powerplant health impacts are calculated.

Sourcewatch on particulates and coal

Air pollution from US coal fired power plants.

NRDC - In 2008, power plants were responsible for 66 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 19 percent of nitrogen oxides emissions, 72 percent of mercury air emissions, and 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.

NRDC benchmarking data

NRDC on air pollution

NRDC methodology documentation

Satellite mapping of PM2.5 air pollution in China


Annual-average population-weighted fine particulate matter concentrations (PM 2.5) for Chinese provinces in 2007. Measured by Aura Satellite.

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