Mountaintop removal linked to birth defects

Jun 28, 2011

recent public health study has found higher rates of birth defects in communities in mountaintop removal mining areas relative to other mining areas and non-mining areas. Researchers looked at public health records in central Appalachian counties from 1996-2003 to conclude that rates of circulatory/respiratory, nervous system, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, urogenital, and other birth defects were significantly higher in mountaintop mining areas. Birth defect rates increased over the study period, coinciding with increased intensity of mountaintop removal mining. Although elevated birth defect rates are partly a function of socioeconomic disadvantage, higher birth defect rates remained even after controlling for those risks.

This study contributes to an increasing body of evidence showing serious health impacts in communities impacted by mountaintop removal mining. Click here for a Q&A with study's authors.