Hard coal production in 2009 was 5990 million tons and brown coal was 913 million tons. Total coal usage was 6.9 billion tons in 2009. China coal usage in 2010 increased by about 8% and they are trying to limit the growth of coal usage to about 3.5% per year from 2011 to 2015. China used 3.2 billion tons of coal in 2009. China probably pushed coal used in 2010 over 7.1 billion tons.
Uranium usage is below 70,000 tons per year. This is 100,000 times less.
So for every person on earth over 1 ton of coal is burned each year and less than 10 grams of uranium is used. 28.3 grams in an ounce. So 0.35 ounces of uranium per person.
In major cities there is between 20-150 micrograms of particulates (PM10 10 micron) per cubic meter of air.
Each day you take over 20,000 breaths and breathe about 35 pounds of air. At sea level and at 20 °C, dry air has a density of approximately 1.2 kg per cubic meter. So every day you are breathing 13.2 cubic meters of air. So 0.2-1.5 grams of particulates each day pass through your lungs every day unless you live some of the particularly clean air areas.
In one year 73-547 grams of particulates pass through your lungs. So in Beijing over 1 pound of particulates through someones lungs each year. 2.6-5 ounces of particulates every year for people living in many major US cities. So every 4-6 years, one pound of particulates through the lungs even for cities in the USA.
Did they take the Uranium from the nuclear plants and pass it through your lungs or your body ? No the fuel is sitting in cooling pools or dry casks. Is a category 9 earthquake and 10 meter tsunami going to cause issues at those places on a frequent basis ? Many places holding the fuel are already tsunami proof by being at elevation above tsunami risk. There will be upgrades to the holding facilities.
The technology (electrostatic precipitators and filters) exist to trap over 99% of the particulates at an affordable cost of $20-50 million per gigawatt of coal or other polluting plant. In 2005, there were 1,522 coal-fired generating units in the U.S., with 336 gigawatts of capacity.
Particulate matter from coal-fired plants can be harmful and have negative health impacts. Studies have shown that exposure to particulate matter is related to an increase of respiratory and cardiac mortality. Particulate matter can irritate small airways in the lungs, which can lead to increased problems with asthma, chronic bronchitis, airway obstruction, and gas exchange. Several studies have also shown a correlation between coal-related air pollutants and stroke. In Medicare patients, ambient levels of PM2.5 have been correlated with cerebrovascular disease, and PM10 with hospital admission for ischemic stroke, which accounts for eighty-seven percent of all strokes. The size and chemical composition of these particles affects the impacts on human health.
According to a report by the Clean Air Task Force, the health effects from fine particle air pollution include death, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, asthma attacks, and a variety of lesser respiratory symptoms. Key findings include:
* Fine particle pollution from U.S. power plants cuts short the lives of over 30,000 people each year.
* In more polluted areas, fine particle pollution can shave several years off its victims’ lives.
* Hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer from asthma attacks, cardiac problems and upper and lower respiratory problems associated with fine particles from power plants.
* The elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease are most severely impacted by fine particle pollution from power plants.
According to the American Lung Association, particle pollution can damage the body in ways similar to cigarette smoking, helping explain why particle pollution can cause heart attacks and strokes. However, even short-term exposure to particle pollution can kill: peaks or spikes in particle pollution can last for hours to days. Deaths can occur on the very day that particle levels are high, or within one to two months afterward
The EPA has concluded that fine particle pollution poses serious health threats:
* Causes early death (both short-term and long-term exposure)
* Causes cardiovascular harm (e.g. heart attacks, strokes, heart disease, congestive heart failure)
* Likely to cause respiratory harm (e.g. worsened asthma, worsened COPD, inflammation)
* May cause cancer
* May cause reproductive and developmental harm
A 2010 yearlong Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation found that Allegheny and Westmoreland counties and the rest of southwestern Pennsylvania – which are near multiple coal plants – show higher mortality rates for multiple sclerosis. The newspaper notes that studies suggest particulate matter pollution can trigger, aggravate or cause relapses of the autoimmune disease
According to a 2004 study released by the Clean Air Task Force, fine particulates from power plants result in nearly 24,000 annual deaths, with 14 years lost on average for each death. Based on social decisions in other contexts such as transportation and medicine, researchers report that American society is willing to spend $129,090 to avoid the loss of a year of life. This suggests that society would be willing to spend at an additional $40 billion (i.e., 24,000 annual deaths x 14 years lost x $129,000 per year lost) for alternative ways of generating electricity that did not produce deadly pollution. With US coal plants generating about 2 billion Gigawatt hours annually, the expenditure of an additional $40 billion would raise the cost of electricity by about two cents per kilowatt hour.
There is also problems with Sulfur dioxide. 628 of the US plants that generate 220 Gigawatts have no sulfur dioxide scrubbers. In 2005, there were 1,522 coal-fired generating units in the U.S., with 336 gigawatts of capacity. So 65% of the plants in the US have no sulfur dioxide scrubbers.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.