The decline of coal could be saving thousands of U.S. lives as power plants reduce air pollution by switching to natural gas, according to a study published Monday.
More than 26,000 U.S. lives were saved from 2005-2016 due to a drop in carbon emissions, the shuttering of coal-fired power plants, along with smog and other pollutants tied to asthma and other ailments, according to a University of California-San Diego study published in the journal Nature, Kallanish Energy learns.
During the study period, 334 coal-fired units were shut down, while 612 natural gas-fired units came online across the U.S., The Hill reported.
“Decommissioning of a coal-fired unit was associated with reduced nearby pollution concentrations and subsequent reductions in mortality and increases in crop yield,” according to the study.
Those changes, along with better emissions controls, fueled an 80% plunge in sulfur dioxide (SO2) and a 60% drop in nitrogen oxides (NOX).
The study found the health benefits from the decrease in pollution were almost immediate and corresponded with a drop in the mortality rate.
Natural gas, however, is not perfect in terms of emissions, the study noted, as the fossil fuel is a major source of methane — a heat-trapping gas more potent than carbon, The Hill reported.
This post appeared first on Kallanish Energy News.