Media Release: Minerals Council’s claims about Hunter Valley air quality misleading

The suggestion by the NSW Minerals Council today that there is no evidence of harm from coal pollution is ludicrous, the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) said today.

“In fact there is a huge body of evidence in the peer reviewed scientific literature that shows the toll from coal on a broad range of negative health impacts, including from air pollution associated with coal dust and coal combustion and blasting,” said Fiona Armstrong, author of the Coal and Health in the Hunter report released by CAHA today.

“Poor water quality, noise pollution, as well as psychological impacts associated with land acquisition and the failure of governments and industry to respond to community concerns all have adverse impacts on health”, she said.

“Our report shows the economic damages associated with coal pollution in the Hunter, as well as the climate damages when coal exported from the Hunter is burned,” Ms Armstrong said.

“Climate change is itself one of the most significant risks to global health, and as an energy source, coal is the biggest driver of climate change.”

Hunter residents who struggle to live with the health impacts of coal mining would be insulted by Mr Gallilee’s claims that air quality in the region is acceptable, Ms Armstrong said.

“In fact air quality in the region regularly breaches air quality standards,” Ms Armstrong said, “Standards which are themselves unacceptable as they are set above the levels recommended by the World Health Organization."

“The World Health Organization also advises there is no safe level of exposure to particulates, yet Australia has no mandatory standard for very fine particles (PM2.5).”

“It’s time the coal industry and the NSW government acted to clean up the harms the health of people in coal mining communities, including those being affected by the massive expansion of the industry in the Hunter region,” Ms Armstrong said.

“We also outline in our report the enormous economic costs associated with the climate damages from coal mined in the Hunter Valley.

“As a recent editorial in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health said: coal is a fuel “no longer fit for purpose on a crowded and overheated planet”. It’s time to move away from coal.”

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