Coal / Mountaintop Removal

National Academy of Sciences to study mountaintop removal health effects

Activist Larry Gibson looking over a ridge at the Kayford Mountain Mountaintop Removal site.

Activist Larry Gibson looking over a ridge at the Kayford Mountain mining site. photo by Kate Wellington

WASHINGTON, DC — “An expert team being appointed by the National Academy of Sciences will examine a ‘growing amount of academic research’ that suggests ‘possible correlations’ between increased public health risks for Appalachian residents and living near mountaintop removal coal mining, the Obama administration announced Wednesday.

A 12-member committee from various fields — ranging from epidemiologists to mining engineers and medical experts to regulatory decision-makers — will examine existing studies, identify research gaps and look for ‘new approaches to safeguard the health of residents living near these types of coal-mining operations,’ according to an Interior Department news release and a study plan from the academy.

The national scientific review follows a series of more than two-dozen studies — mostly by former West Virginia University researcher Michael Hendryx — that raised serious concern about increased risk of cancer, birth defects and premature death among coalfield residents living near large-scale surface coal-mining operations.”

— Ken Ward, Jr., Charleston Gazette

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