The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health

The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health

by Alan H. Lockwood
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

We will not find "exposure to burning coal" listed as the cause of death on a single death certificate, but tens of thousands of deaths from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and other illnesses are clearly linked to coal-derived pollution. As politicians and advertising campaigns extol the virtues of "clean coal,"

See more details below

Overview

We will not find "exposure to burning coal" listed as the cause of death on a single death certificate, but tens of thousands of deaths from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and other illnesses are clearly linked to coal-derived pollution. As politicians and advertising campaigns extol the virtues of "clean coal," the dirty secret is that coal kills. In The Silent Epidemic, Alan Lockwood, a physician, describes and documents the adverse health effects of burning coal. Lockwood's comprehensive treatment examines every aspect of coal, from its complex chemical makeup to details of mining, transporting, burning, and disposal—each of which generates significant health concerns. He describes coal pollution's effects on the respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems, and how these problems will only get worse; explains the impact of global warming on coal-related health problems; and discusses possible policy approaches to combat coal pollution. Coal fueled the industrial revolution and has become a major source of energy in virtually every country. In the United States, almost half of the energy used to generate electricity comes from burning coal. Relatively few people are aware of the health threats posed by coal-derived pollutants, and those who are aware lack the political clout of the coal industry. Lockwood's straightforward description of coal as a health hazard is especially timely, given the barrage of marketing efforts to promote coal as part of "energy independence." His message is clear and urgent: "Coal-fired plants make people sick and die, particularly children and those with chronic illnesses, and they cost society huge amounts of money desperately needed for other purposes."

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Lockwood (neurology & nuclear medicine, emeritus, SUNY Buffalo) contends that coal-derived pollutants are causing significant disease and death in the United States. About half of the nation's electricity is generated by 600 coal-fired power plants, which burn a billion tons of coal each year. Lockwood discusses some of the hazardous substances these plants release, in spite of pollution-control equipment, and their effects on public health. While coal is called an affordable resource, Lockwood points out that each plant averages $156 million per year in calculated damages. He states that coal mining and burning also play a part in climate change. Carbon dioxide capture and storage could help, he believes, but the industry has not even begun to implement that complex technology. Lockwood, who was the lead author of a 2009 white paper, "Coal's Assault on Human Health," fills the book with references to many other scientific studies and government reports. VERDICT This book is an urgent call for Americans to support a rapid shift to cleaner electric power sources. The evidence provided should be of vital interest to everyone who uses electricity.—David Conn, formerly with Surrey Libs., BC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262017893
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
08/31/2012
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.06(h) x 0.83(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Energy policy is health policy. In The Silent
Epidemic
, Alan Lockwood makes clear that coal is a pressing health concern. Just as a microbiology text analyzes bacteria, this book provides a guide for medical and public health thinking about coal. Highly recommended."--Howard Frumkin, Dean, School of Public
Health, University of Washington

The MIT Press

" The Silent Epidemic provides an exacting and sobering account of one of the fastest growing problems confronting our planet --
pollution from coal. The analytical breadth as well as the readability of Alan
Lockwood's study make it a unique and powerful resource for health care providers,
policy makers and concerned citizens alike." --Stanley B.
Prusiner
, Professor of Neurology, University of California, San
Francisco

The MIT Press

"Dr. Lockwood's prose is measured. His tone is dispassionate. And his prognosis is chilling. This book is must reading for environmental scientists and health professionals. It should also be on the bookshelves of energy policy makers, power company executives, urban planners, elected officials, and concerned citizens. Dr. Lockwood's diagnosis affects us all."--Philip J.
Landrigan
, M.D., MSc., Ethel H. Wise Professor of Community Medicine,
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

The MIT Press

"We've known for centuries that coal pollution is harmful and even deadly, but The Silent Epidemic painstakingly documents the full extent of coal's malignant effects on our health and society -- and adds urgency to ending our dependence on a fuel that deserves no place in a clean and healthy economy."--Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra
Club

The MIT Press

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >