Children in a region of the US were born smaller after the area switched from nuclear plants to coal-fired power stations, new research has found.
…The analysis of data from the US Energy Information Administration by Severnini reveals that the loss of nuclear energy following the two closures was made up almost entirely by an increase in energy production by coal-fired power plants in the Tennessee Valley area, although the increase varied across different plants.
The result was that particle pollution increased in areas where coal use rose. Around the Paradise plant, which accounted for almost a quarter of the rise in coal-fired energy, concentration of particulates increased by 27% in the 18 months after the nuclear shutdown.
At the same time average birth weight fell. After taking into account a host of factors relating to the child, county and mother, including her age and education levels – although smoking habits were not specifically probed – birth weight in areas with coal-fired plants declined by around 5.4% in the 18 months after the nuclear shutdown. The impact was greatest in the areas which showed the greatest boom in coal-fired power plant activity after closure of the two nuclear sites.
…But the impact, adds Severnini, goes further, with lower birth weights linked to lower incomes, shorter height and even a lower IQ: a drop of 5.4% in birth weight, he notes, suggests a 0.7% decrease in full-time earnings [Nicola Davis, “Switch from Nuclear to Coal-Fired Power Linked to Low birth Weight in US Region,” UK Guardian, 2017.04.03].
If you plan to dig more coal, you have to plan to burn that coal. This research shows that when you burn that coal, you’ll get weaker babies who will suffer lifelong disadvantages, which will cascade into costs for the economy, federal revenues, and the budget deficit.
And there are asthma, heart attacks, strokes… man! It’s as if Trump read “Harrison Bergeron” and decided he needs to make us all equal by bringing our life expectancy down to that of his base.