Air pollution from coal mines

From Global Energy Monitor

Air pollution from coal mines is mainly due to emissions of particulate matter and gases including methane (CH4), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx), as well as carbon monoxide (CO).[1]


Mining operations like drilling, blasting, hauling, collection, and transportation are the major sources of emissions and air pollution. Coal left in the ground can catch fire, and mine fires are difficult to control, with some burning for decades or even centuries, creating a major source of air pollution. The use of explosives, such as in mountaintop removal, releases carbon monoxide (CO). Dust and coal particles stirred up during the mining process, as well as soot released during coal transport, contributes to emissions and respiratory problems.[1]


High levels of suspended particulate matter increase respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis and asthma, while gaseous emissions contribute to respiratory, cardiovascular, and cerebral problems.[2] Coal also contains methane (CH4), a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, which is released into the atmosphere during mining. On average, the deeper a mine, the more methane it generates, although methane emission depends on the mining methods, depth of coal mining, coal quality, and entrapped gas content in coal seams.[1]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Partha Das Sharma,"Coal mining and pollution" Knol Website, July 2009
  2. Alan Lockwood, Kristen Welker-Hood, Molly Rauch, Barbara Gottlieb,"Coal's Assault on Human Health" Physicians for Social Responsibility Report, November 2009

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