Renewable Energy Sources Can Improve Public Health

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Renewable energy has been a hot topic in recent years, and there are even federal tax incentives for individuals and companies wishing to equip properties with renewable energy devices. Getting a tax break is certainly a perk, but there are health benefits to moving towards renewable energy, as well. Keep reading to learn about a few of them.

Fewer Incidences of Cancer and Birth Defects

In many states across America, particularly in areas surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, energy needs are met through the process of mountaintop removal. This means that mountaintops are blasted off, allowing coal seams to be accessed. An explanation of the process from the Center for Biological Diversity notes that during mining, toxins get released into the air and coat surrounding residences with dust. When poisons get released into water sources, it has an adverse impact on wildlife, but human residents could see their health put at risk, as well.

Appalachian Voices, an organization against mountaintop removal mining, has compiled studies showing that people who live nearby sites are 50% more likely to die of cancer, while people born in those areas are more than 40% more likely to have birth defects. The statistics suggest that being dependent on fossil fuels like coal is not only a poor choice for environmental sustainability, but can interfere with a person’s well-being as soon as he or she is born, too.

Reduction of Acid Rain

Dependence on fossil fuels as opposed to renewable energy sources can also create acid rain. This substance results when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide blend with water vapor and oxygen, creating liquid that has a higher concentration of sulfuric and nitric acid than normal rain. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that acid rain is very harmful to forests, lakes and streams, meaning that members of the animal kingdom are more directly harmed by acid rain than humans.

However, both nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide can exacerbate respiratory diseases like asthma, and the former is responsible for ground-level ozone which can cause permanent lung damage. The EPA mentions that there are currently efforts being made to reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide that coal burning power plants release into the air, but renewable energy sources like the sun and wind produce much less pollution in general, making them a smart choice, both for producing electricity, and powering machinery.

A Safer Workplace With Less Occupational Hazards

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study which found that using renewable energy may have a more specific public health advantage because it promotes workplace safety. The research was performed by the Medical College of Wisconsin, and data indicated that mining is the second most hazardous occupation in the United States, with 27.5 deaths per 100,000 people. The scientists asserted that renewable energies which don’t require the traditional full extraction phase are much less hazardous, and wind and solar energies only carry small chances of large catastrophic occurrences.

Although there is still much work to do in the field of renewable energy, the three areas above offer insight into why progress in the field could not only make our planet healthier, but improve health outcomes for the earth’s residents, as well.

Author Tracy Rentz blogs for business sites. Interested in a public health career but don’t want to quit your day job? USC’s mph degree is now available online.

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