Published on June 27th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


Birth Defects MUCH More Common Near Mountaintop Removal

June 27th, 2011 by


Yet another reason to love mountaintop removal coal mining and coal-fired electricity — it causes birth defects! Yippee! In all seriousness, though, this is concerning and it is no surprise. Mountaintop removal harms the environment and people’s water supply and that (something tons of people still don’t seem to comprehend) translates into harm to human health.

Here’s more on this particular topic:

Birth defects are significantly more common in areas of mountaintop coal mining and are on the rise as the practice becomes more common, according to a study by researchers at Washington State University and West Virginia University.

The researchers, led by Melissa Ahern, health economist and associate professor in WSU’s College of Pharmacy, found 235 birth defects per 10,000 births where mountaintop mining is most common in four central Appalachian states. That’s nearly twice the rate of 144 defects per 10,000 in non-mining areas.

Previous studies have found low birth weights and increased levels of adult disease and death in coal mining areas. This study offers one of the first indications that health problems are disproportionately concentrated specifically in mountaintop mining

Dirty energy advocates either bought or confused by the dirty energy industry think coal is much cheaper than wind and solar power. That’s hardly the case these days even if you DON’T take environmental and health harms into account. But take these things into account, and the cost of solar or wind power is tremendously lower.

More on that here (but without the inclusion of factors like the birth defects issue above, which are still not too well known): True Value of Solar Power and Wind Power Subsidies Don’t Compare to Fossil Fuel & Nuclear Subsidies

Related Stories on Planetsave:

  1. Cut the Coal (Going Green Tip #6)
  2. The Last Mountain: New Documentary on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
  3. Coal Mining in West Virginia: A Touching Story
  4. Mountain Heroes: Help Stop Mountaintop Removal Today
  5. Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Loses Another Financial Supporter

Photo Credit: via flickr

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • I thought when the EPA did it’s evaluation of MTR that something meaningful would happen. I thought Palmer et. al. would make a difference. Just because this paper says there are greater incidences of birth defects in counties where MTR is going on, would anyone think the deniers would take notice and do something? Heck no! A few dollars would be lost… what’s a few sick kids in the face of that? Does anyone really think politicians give a rip about the the environment or sick kids? No, all that matters is dollars.

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