Google+ Random Musing of a Doctor: Generating Power From Coal Endangers Health expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'> Google+

Random Musing of a Doctor Headline Animator

Monday, March 2, 2015

Generating Power From Coal Endangers Health

Nigeria’s coal reserve which is put at about 360 metric tonnes is predicted to generate up to 30% of the nation’s electricity needs, but at what cost? According to the International Energy Statistics 2012, in 2008, the total recoverable coal deposit in Nigeria stands at 209.439 metric short tons. From the Minister of Power -Prof. Chinedu Nebo in November 2013, the quantity of coal deposits in Nigeria could provide electricity for the nation for the next 20 – 30years, yet in August 2014, Dangote Cement Plc announced plans to invest $250m (N40billion) investments in coal-fired plant imported from South Africa for its plants in Obajana, Ibeshe and Gboko; to generate 30MW of electricity. Dangote Cement Plc was reported to have placed import order of 30,000 tonnes of coal into Nigeria from South Africa (an addition to Nigeria’s energy import like the traditional importation of traditional refined fuel).
Meanwhile, South Africa is planning on cutting its coal composition in its energy mix, to switch to renewable energy. According to the World Energy Resources; 2013 Survey, it remains true that coal is the most widespread fossil fuel around the world, and more than 75 countries have coal deposits. According to the survey, the current share of coal in global
power generation is over 40%, but it is expected to decrease in the coming years. Although countries in Europe and to some extent North America are trying to shift their consumption to alternative sources of energy, any reduction is more than offset by the large developing economies primarily in Asia which has significant coal reserves (and Nigeria plans to thread this path). China alone uses as much coal as the rest of the world; and invariably embraces all associated cost that emanates from the use of coal.
While too many countries have limited the cost estimation for power generation to the price of plant setting, maintenance and operation, some other many remain left out when the social and opportunity cost are not factored into the estimation. Among the social cost is the health impact of coal. If Nigeria must embark on coal exploration for power generation, then we must avail ourselves the knowledge of the associated risk in its use; consider possible options, if not plan to alleviate, better still eliminate the risk.
According to records of the Union of Concerned Scientists, in an average year, a typical coal plant (500 megawatts) generates the following amounts of air pollutants: 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), an amount equivalent to chopping down 161 million trees. CO2 pollution is the principal human cause of global warming and climate change. 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which causes acid rain and forms small airborne particles that can cause lung damage, heart disease, and other illnesses. 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), equivalent to half a million late-model cars. NOx leads to formation of smog, which inflames lung tissue and increases susceptibility to respiratory illness. 500 tons of small airborne particles (particulate matter), which can cause bronchitis, reductions in lung function, increased hospital and emergency room admissions, and premature death. 220 tons of Hydrocarbons, which contribute to smog formation. 720 tons of carbon nonoxide (CO), which causes headaches and places additional stress on people with heart disease. 170 pounds of mercury. 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury deposited in a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe to eat. Mercury also causes learning disabilities, brain damage, and neurological disorders. 225 pounds of arsenic, which leads to cancer in 1 out of 100 people who drink water containing 50 parts per billion. 114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, and other toxic heavy metals. These toxic metals can accumulate in human and animal tissue and cause serious health problems, including mental retardation, developmental disorders, and damage to the nervous system. Coal ash, the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned, can also contain chromium, which can cause stomach ulcers, anemia, and stomach and lung cancers; selenium, which in excess can cause impaired vision or paralysis; and boron, which can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, or in large amounts damage to testes, intestines, liver, kidney, and brain. All of these effects can eventually lead to death.
Particle pollution from coal power plants is estimated to kill approximately 13,000 people a year. An ALA graph from these reports shows that while pollutants such as acid gases stay in the local extractive areas, metals such as lead and arsenic travel beyond state lines, and fine particulate matter has a global impact. Hence all should be concerned. Against the hasty decision to seek coal for power generation, Nigeria should consider engaging in renewable energy sources. 
culled from

No comments:

Post a Comment