MTR and Cancer in Coal River Valley

Jul 27, 2011

A study released this week in the Journal of Community Health provides yet more evidence linking mountaintop removal mining to severe health impacts. The study, “Self-Reported Cancer Rates in Two Rural Areas of West Virginia with and Without Mountaintop Coal Mining,” found that people in the Coal River Valley were twice as likely to have had cancer as people surveyed in Pocahontas County, WV (where there is no mountaintop removal mining). This was after controlling for age, sex, smoking, occupation, and family cancer history. The study was based on door-to-door interviews conducted in the Coal River Valley and in Pocahontas County earlier this year. The authors note that many of the chemicals found in coal and used in coal processing are carcinogenic; in addition, diesel exhaust from mining sites, coal processing, and coal trucking also contributes to cancer risk.

This study contributes to a growing body of public health research showing connections between living in an area impacted coal mining - particularly mountaintop removal mining - and higher risks of various health impacts, including birth defectslung disease and kidney disease.