Study: Mountaintop removal dust linked to cancer

Dust from mountaintop removal coal mining might be the cause of lung cancer tumor growths among communities near operations, according to a new study.

The West Virginia University study, released this week, links mountaintop removal dust to “significantly higher reports of cancer,” The Charleston Gazette reports.

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"A growing body of evidence links living in proximity to [mountaintop removal] activities to greater risk of serious health consequences, including significantly higher reports of cancer,” the study states.

“Our finding strengthens previous epidemiological studies linking [mountaintop removal] to increased incidence of lung cancer, and supports adoption of prevention strategies and exposure control,” it adds.

The researchers found that repeated exposure to mountaintop removal dust spurred cell changes that typically lead to the development of lung cancer, confirming that the dust is a “health concern as a cancer promoter.”

The mining industry contends that surface mining is a safe and efficient way to extract coal reserves. In Appalachia, there are roughly 14,000 surface coal miners.