Researchers from Rice University suggested that coal power plant in Texas lack equipment to restrain emission of sulfur dioxide
A team of researchers led by environmental engineer Daniel Cohan of Rice University studied models that measure the effects of emissions from 13 coal plants in Texas. According to Cohan, coal plants in Texas are causing a significant amount of air pollution damage. He further stated that the health damage is mostly caused particulate matter. The research was published in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association.
The team collected data of 13 coal plants from 2012 to 2017, of which three are closed. According to the team, increasing expanse related to coal power plants and available alternatives such as natural gas and wind and solar energy have led to closure of several plants. The researchers noted that according to the statistics provided by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Texas power plants emit over twice as much sulfur dioxide as second-ranked Missouri. Cohan stated that although the particulate levels meet current standards, it still pose threat to human health.
Higher concentration of particulate matter is associated with increasing cases of deaths both on a short-term correlation and over long-term studies. According to the team, high levels of particulate matter on a particular day leads to higher death rates over the next few days. Cohan stated that particulate matter is the most fatal among all air pollutants as it related to both respiratory diseases and increasing rates of heart attacks and strokes. Particulate matter is small enough to pass through the alveoli to enter the bloodstream. The researchers also stated that recent, simple atmospheric models, which aid in quickly computing the health effects from pollution are as efficient as more complicated state-of-the-art models. Cohan concluded that the number of coal plants that are operational is decreasing mostly due to air pollution standards or due to increasing number of renewable plants such as solar and wind.