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Coal study lacking in credibility

Mar 27, 2014

Vancouver Sun
Alan Fryer
March 26, 2014

Re: Emissions exposure linked to rail line proximity, March 24

The study referenced in this story has been erroneously reported to be associated with Washington State University when in fact it was a crowdfunded study by a WSU professor who raised the money through a weather blog.

The study is simply not credible. It offers no data linking coal dust to air quality or negative health impacts. In fact, the author of the study himself has admitted in the media that the effect of coal dust “seems to be a non-issue”. Misrepresenting the study’s actual findings for whatever reasons represents bad science, bad policy and it is unfortunate the author’s questionable assumptions are being reported as fact.

A much more credible study was done by the Northwest Clean Air Agency, which enforces government clean air standards in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. After 20 months of monitoring, the data show that coal dust is simply not a cause for concern.

That’s what the unions whose members mine, load and transport coal here in B.C. have known for years. They have stated publicly that, “coal dust and exposure have simply not appeared in our members as a health issue.”

And as for diesel emissions, let’s not forget that diesel particulates from trains are among the least significant contributors to air pollution. And moving freight by rail instead of by truck reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent.

ALAN FRYER, Coal Alliance

Click hereto view original letter in the Vancouver Sun.

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