17 May 2017

Australia warned coal burning 'direct threat to public health'

3:55 pm on 17 May 2017

Medical experts have given the Australian government a blast because too much coal being burnt.

They said power stations wanting to burn coal should have to buy a properly administered license to pollute, as a financial incentive for firms to clean up their act.

An undated file photo shows a coal-fired power station in Australia

An undated file photo shows a coal-fired power station in Australia Photo: 123RF

The comments (PDF, 158KB) came from the Public Health Association of Australi,a in support of earlier remarks by lobby group Doctors for the Environment Australia this week.

The association said air pollution from coal-fired power stations was a "direct threat to public health".

It said negative health effects included fine particle pollution, causing heart and lung disease - and sulphur dioxide, triggering asthma attacks.

In addition, CO2 emissions contributed to climate change.

It quoted a recent report saying five coal-fired power stations in the Hunter Valley alone were producing health costs of about $AU600 million a year.

Australia produces 86 percent of its electricity from burning fossil fuels, the vast majority of it black and brown coal.

Besides visible pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, the use of coal to make electricity wastes energy in the transformation process.

The record in New Zealand is in stark contrast, with around 86 percent of electricity coming from renewable sources, the same figure as the Australians for fossil fuels.