Health

Anglesea Power Station
Alcoa Anglesea uses around 1.1 million tonnes of brown coal a year to generate electricity that is transmitted to the Point Henry aluminium smelter via a 45 kilometres high-voltage line.

The coal at Anglesea has a high quality heat value when compared to other brown coals used to produce electricity in Victoria, but has a much higher level of sulphur of around 3 percent, resulting in high levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Carbon Monitoring for Action estimates the power station emits 1.21 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year as a result of burning coal.

map-alcoa-town590

Coal is a health hazard

Air pollution from coal mines and coal burning power stations

  • Contributes to heart and lung disease
  • Worsens asthma and chronic obstructive airways disease
  • Can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and lung cancer
  • The young, the old, those with respiratory and heart conditions are most at risk

Coal is a health hazard. This is based on firm scientific evidence

  • Pollution from coal affects all major body organ systems and contributes to heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease and asthma. It interferes with lung development, increases the risk of heart attacks.
  • Coal’s assault on human health
  • Each step of the coal lifecycle—mining, transportation, washing, combustion, and disposing of post-combustion wastes— has additional impacts human health.

Limited research in Australia

  • In Australia there has been limited research into the impacts of air pollution from coal. However, current evidence suggests that the health impacts of air pollution are similar to those reported from other developed countries.

Alcoa Anglesea Brown Coal Mine emits harmful particles

  • There are a number of air pollutants arising from power generation which have been identified as injurious to humans. The most harmful pollutants are the smallest particles (PM 2.5) and coal combustion contributes to these. Alcoa Anglesea power station emits high quantities of PM2.5 particles each year. They are inhaled deep into the lungs to cause inflammation and damage and large quantities are being produced in mining and power generation. Sulfur Dioxide is released by the Alcoa Anglesea power station in very large quantities. It is a powerful and dangerous respiratory irritant.
  • National Pollutant Inventory

Toxic elements

  • Many toxic elements are released with coal combustion – arsenic, mercury, fluorine, cadmium, lead, selenium and zinc. Of these mercury is perhaps of greatest concern. It enters the environment and is transformed into toxic forms which can accumulate up the food chain, particularly in fish, and affect the human nervous system. Exposure during pregnancy is of most concern, because it may harm the development of the unborn child’s brain.

For further up to date information on the health effects of pollution from coal please go to: