The effects of coal mining go beyond its well publicised environmental impacts, as revealed by the discovery of more immediate health and social effects.
Studies of communities living near coal mining regions in the US, UK, Canada, Turkey, Israel and Asia revealed a higher chance of death from lung cancer and heart disease in adults. In children and infants, impaired growth and neurological development were found to be more prevalent.
Despite differences in mining practices and standards between countries, the findings have sparked calls for a closer inspection of the Hunter Region of New South Wales. The region is home to more than 30 open-cut coal mines and six active coal-fired power stations.