Media release

Report: Australians worried about coal pollution health impacts

January 13, 2016


New polling has found most Australians believe coal mining doesn’t stack up against the health impacts on the community.

The report, based on a survey of 1,507 Australians from across the nation, showed that about half of respondents feel state and federal governments are taking too long to address the harmful health impacts of coal pollution, such as air pollution.

“All Australian voters breathe. This report shows that in an election year, Australian voters expect Australian governments to control air pollution from coal,” said Dr James Whelan, researcher at Environmental Justice Australia.

“Australian governments could start to address these concerns by immediately implementing the new particle pollution standards that were set by environment ministers on 15 December,” said Phil Hill, Clean Air Lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia.

Air pollution kills more than 3000 people prematurely each year in Australia. Most of these deaths are attributable to particle pollution.

Australia’s open cut coal mines are responsible for 47% of all coarse particle (PM10) emissions nationally – a total of 435,000 tonnes in 2013-14.  These harmful particle emissions have doubled in the last five years and trebled in the last 10 (according to the National Pollutant Inventory).

In coal mining regions, coal is responsible for up to 90% of all particle pollution.

Pollution from the coal industry includes coarse (PM10) and fine (PM2.5) particle pollution from coal blasting, mining, loading, transportation, uncovered coal wagons. Coal-fired power stations are significant sources of fine particles.

The coal ports of of Newcastle, Brisbane and Mackay have massive uncovered stockpiles in urban areas. The pollution from these sources is entirely be preventable by covering the stockpiles and the coal trains that service them.

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