Coal power stations 'kill 1,600'

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Fumes from coal-fired power stations cause 1,600 premature deaths each year in the UK and more than 350,000 lost working days, a new report has claimed.

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said burning coal adds to poor air quality, and is having a direct effect on health.

More than 18,000 premature deaths in the European Union each year are linked to emissions from coal-fired power plants, said the Brussels based alliance of health and other groups.

Burning coal releases a number of air pollutants that are harmful to health, said the report.

The study was published ahead of a vote in Parliament later this week on an amendment to the Energy
Bill, which would force coal-fired power stations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and produce less pollution.

"Rapidly growing evidence of how coal affects air pollution and our health is pushing this issue on to centre stage in the energy debate," said Genon Jensen, executive director of HEAL.

"Our report has had a great response from energy ministers and health professionals who are increasingly aware that coal is costly for public health.

"The time is now ripe to bring the health facts and figures into national debates and cost assessments.
The vote in the UK offers a unique opportunity to cash in huge health co-benefits."

Greenpeace chief scientist Doug Parr said: "If the amendment is voted down in the Commons, it could mean much of the UK's power comes from ageing coal plants for years to come. As these new figures show, this will have serious implications for human health."