Doctors and medical students from the Surf Coast, Geelong and Melbourne met today to learn more about the health impacts of coal mining and combustion, and what that might mean for the Anglesea community.
Presentations by Monash University Adjunct Associate Professor Marion Carey, and local doctor Dr Jacinta Morahan followed a tour of the area and highlighted the adverse health impacts of the coal industry.
“Mining and burning coal not only produces greenhouse gases which we can no longer afford to put into the atmosphere. It also produces pollutants that directly harm human health, contributing to heart and lung disease and premature death,” A/Prof Carey said.
“In Anglesea the health of residents is at risk due to the close proximity of the mine and power station to homes, the school and the places children play,” Dr Morahan said.
”The power station emits very high levels of sulphur dioxide and scrubbing devices have not been installed to reduce these emissions.
”Sulphur dioxide inflames airways and can cause symptoms in asthmatics in only 5 to 10 minutes and impacts are known to occur even at the current levels Alcoa is permitted to emit.
“I am deeply concerned about the short and long term health impacts upon children who live in and visit Anglesea, including my own,” Dr Morahan said.
Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) Victorian Chair Dr Eugenie Kayak said, “We know that other pollutants such as inhalable particles are also produced by the power station, and these particles can affect the healthy functioning of both heart and lungs.
“There are no known levels of particulate matter which are free of health effects.
“It concerns us as medical professionals that the current air quality standards are inadequate and potentially not protecting health.” she said.
The Victorian Government recently renewed Alcoa’s 50 year lease which allows for hundreds more hectares of Anglesea’s richly biodiverse heath to be mined.
DEA will continue to work with local residents to support their call for Alcoa to install currently available pollution reduction technology while transitioning to renewable energy sources. DEA will also continue to liaise with Governments at all levels and the EPA to work towards air quality standards that provide better protection of public health.
See DEA’s recent submission to Senate Inquiry Into Impacts On Health Of Air Quality In Australia http://dea.org.au/images/uploads/submissions/Impacts_on_health_of_air_quality_in_Australia_Submission.v1_03-13.pdf
DEA media liaison and images of the event: Anne Walker M: 0419 505 889
Spokespersons: Dr Jacinta Morahan M: 0419 357 971 and Dr Eugenie Kayak M: 0419 685 574