Coal Development in Alaska: Threats to Human Health

May 12, 2010 @ 12:00am (AKDT)

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Coal exploration and proposed development throughout Alaska threaten human health with potential hazardous emissions. At every stage—from mining, transportation, washing, combustion and disposal of post-combustion wastes—coal development is a threat to human and environmental health. Pollutants from coal adversely affect all major organ systems in the human body and contribute to four of the top five causes of death in the United States: heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic lower respiratory diseases. CHE-Alaska hosted a discussion of the dangerous chemicals associated with coal development, how these chemicals may affect our health, the status of coal-related projects in Alaska, and potential impacts to communities statewide. The call included community-based advocacy efforts to address coal development in Alaska and how you can help protect the health of Alaskans from coal.

Read Coal’s Assault on Human Health, a groundbreaking medical report on the devastating impacts of coal on the human body.

Visit AlaskaCoal.org to learn more about proposed coal development in Alaska and what you can do.

To prevent risks to human health from coal development, a growing number of health care providers, tribes, parents, fishing groups, and other concerned citizens are working together to keep Alaska’s coal in the ground.

Featured speakers

Kristen Welker-Hood, ScD, MSN, RN, is the Director of Environment and Health Program at Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) in Washington DC. Dr. Welker-Hood’s environmental research has focused on indoor air pollution. She has recently completed work validating an environmental assessment survey instrument for HUD-funded U.S. public housing. She previously served as Senior Policy Fellow in the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health of the American Nurses Association (ANA) where her work focused on nursing exposures to hazardous chemicals in the acute care setting. She holds a BS in Nursing from the State University of New York in Binghamton NY, an MS in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore MD and received her Doctorate in Environmental Health Science from Boston University School of Public Health, Boston MA in 2005.

Tim Leach has served as the Coordinator of the Alaska Coal Working Group since September 2008. Tim founded the Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) Ratepayers Alliance to address local concerns over a proposed coal fired power plant in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Tim Leach has a BS in Geology from Bates College. He has worked on Alaska conservation issues since 2001 when he worked with the Caribou Commons Project, Alaska Wilderness League and Alaska Coalition as a photographer, educator, lecturer and campaign coordinator to help protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Angela Wade, an Ahtna Athabascan from Chickaloon, Alaska, Angela has been director for the Chikaloon Village Environmental Stewardship Program Director for over twelve years and is currently overseeing several projects within the Tribe’s Traditional Territory. Angela has worked for years to restore the area’s salmon streams which were polluted by mining of the Chickaloon coalfields in the early 20th Century and to caution those facing proposed coal development of the potential community impacts for Alaska Natives.

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