Coal emissions caused 20,112 cases of asthma in children with a health cost of 824,592 euros in two years in Spain, IIDMA says

The International Institute for Law and the Environment (IIDMA) recalls the serious health effects associated with emissions from coal-fired power plants on World Asthma Day. The organization points out that coal emissions in Spain were related to 20,112 asthma episodes and 2,066 cases of bronchitis in children, one of the most vulnerable groups, between 2015 and 2016*. The health costs of asthma episodes in children was 824,592 euros.

The report “A Dark Outlook: the aftermath of coal”, recently presented by the International Institute of Law and Environment (IIDMA), also relates coal emissions to 1,529 premature deaths, 668 hospital admissions due to respiratory diseases and 740 cases of chronic bronchitis in adults. The study has been prepared following the methodology recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Environment Agency.

The impacts on health had associated economic costs of between 1,871 and 3,568 million euros, associated with health costs and the reduction in productivity caused by work absenteeism: 371,552 days of lost work and 1,350,401 days of restricted activity.

 The study shows the direct relationship between coal emissions and their health impacts through comparative analysis: between 2015 and 2016 electricity production from coal was reduced by 30%. This reduction was associated to a 40.5% reduction in the health impacts and a saving of between 499 and 952 million euros.

Children are one of the most vulnerable groups to air pollution. In fact, the 2017´s IIDMA report “Dark Outlook” (with data from 2014), served as the basis for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to address recommendations to Spain recalling its obligation to protect the right to health of children and requiring measures for its fulfilment, such as the need to allocate more budgetary resources to implement a strategy for a coal phase-out. In the case of Spain, IIDMA considers that the date of 2025, at the latest, should be included in a legally binding instrument, such as the Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition or the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP). Currently, neither the draft law nor the draft NECP envisages a closure date for coal-fired power plants. It also urges policymakers to accelerate and authorize the plant closure processes scheduled for June 2020.

“The health impacts produced by coal emissions affect the whole of Spain, not only the areas where coal power plants exist, and hinder the right to a healthy environment as established in article 45 of the Spanish Constitution. For this reason, it is urgent to put an end to the presence of coal in our energy mix, in addition to other measures that we pointed out in our study such as the need to take the WHO’s guide values for air quality as a guideline, as they are stricter than those of the European Union, or the urgency of providing real-time information on emissions from coal-fired power plants” says Carlota Ruiz-Bautista, IIDMA environmental lawyer and one of the authors of the report.

*IIDMA has made a video with the simulation of the dispersion of pollution from emissions from coal-fired power plants in Spain:

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