Coal Kills

The mining, transport, and burning of coal kills people. The world is moving on from this dangerous dirty fuel.

Coal is the biggest single cause of air pollution in Australia, contributing to 3,000 deaths every year.1

Air pollution kills an estimated 3 million people globally each year2, with the burning of coal a key contributor.3

In 2016 an accident at an Adani power station saw 7 workers killed when a hot water pipeline burst, meanwhile at least 19 Australian mine workers have been diagnosed with the deadly ‘Black Lung’ disease.

Coal pollution is the biggest driver of climate change.


Coal is killing us and our planet. Pollution from burning coal is the single biggest contributor to dangerous global warming, threatening our way of life. Coal mining drains and pollutes our water supplies, harms our health and destroys our natural landscape.


Every year approximately 3,000 Australians die from air pollution4, over twice the annual road toll. Coal contributes to many more deaths by fuelling dangerous global warming which has seen increased and more intense droughts, bushfires, heatwaves and floods5 threatening people’s lives and livelihoods here and overseas.

Dust from coal mines, trains and ports infiltrates the lungs of coal workers causing respiratory diseases such as black lung. Coal dust pollutes the air of local communities, where higher rates of heart and lung disease, high blood pressure and kidney disease have been found compared to people living other areas6. In Australia, ‘black lung’ disease7 has recently re-emerged among miners, with at least nineteen workers identified with the debilitating condition.8

Coal-fired power stations emit sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxides, mercury and particulates which enter the bloodstream and contribute to asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and strokes9.

Globally, the coal industry still regularly records mining accidents and fatalities. Adani coal companies have claimed serious injuries and deaths in India. Last year 21 workers suffered horrendous burns at Adani’s coal-fired power station in Gujarat when a hot water pipe burst, seven of whom later died from their injuries.10

Coal is not safe. It is killing workers, communities, and our planet. Meanwhile, the world is moving beyond coal as countries transition to safer, healthier, and now cheaper ways of making renewable electricity from the sun and wind.

Footnotes

  1. International Energy Agency (2016) Energy and Air Pollution. World Energy Outlook Special Report. https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/WorldEnergyOutlookSpecialReport2016EnergyandAirPollution.pdf
  2. World Health Organization (2016) Ambient air pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease. World Health Organization http://who.int/phe/publications/air-pollution-global-assessment/en/
  3. As above at [1].
  4. Begg, Vos, Barker, Stevenson, Stanley & Lopez, The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cat. no. PHE 82, Canberra (2007), p234, available at http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442467990
  5. World Health Organisation, Climate change and health, June 2016

  6. Lockwood AH, Welker-Hood K, Rauch M & Gottlieb B (2009) Coal’s assault on human health. Physicians for Social Responsibility. www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/psr-coal-fullreport.pdf
  7. Coal worker's pneumoconiosis
  8. Australian Mining, Black lung strikes 19th worker, 1 March 2017.
  9. Lockwood AH, Welker-Hood K, Rauch M & Gottlieb B (2009) Coal’s assault on human health. Physicians for Social Responsibility. www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/psr-coal-fullreport.pdf
  10. The Hindu, 7 people died in an accident in Adani power plant on April 20th, 28 April 2016.