CALP: Health Effects of Power Plant Pollution

Pollutants and Health

West Virginia has the highest rate of death caused by power plant pollution in the entire United States. According to US Environmental Protection Agency estimates, nearly 400 West Virginians die each year from heart attacks and lung cancer caused by power plant pollution. In addition, 314 emergency room visits, 331 hospitalizations, 7923 asthma attacks, and 41,627 lost work days are estimated to result from power plant pollution in WV. See for more information.

West Virginia has the third highest rate of diagnosed asthma and the fourth highest rate of death from cardiovascular disease in the nation. The elderly, the very young, and people with lung disease and cardiovascular disease are most likely to die or be hospitalized as a result of short-term exposure to high levels of air pollution. Although these people are most likely to be harmed by air pollution, recent studies show that long-term exposure to lower levels of air pollution contributes to the development chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease in the general population as well.

Pollutants which will be released from Longview

The Longview Power Plant will release large amounts of many pollutants that have been shown to harm human health:

Fine particulate matter - 110 pounds per hour

Sulfur dioxide - 550 pounds per hour

Nitrogen oxides - 396 pounds per hour

Sulfuric acid - 45 pounds per hour

Volatile organic compounds - 23 pounds per hour

Arsenic - 2.5 pounds per day

Lead - 2.6 pounds per day

Mercury - 1/3 pound per day


The American Lung Association gives Monongalia County a grade of "D" on many measures of air quality (see report). Do we need to add to this burden?

* CA EPA reference exposure level: at life-long exposures below this level, adverse health effects are not likely to occur. Similarly, the US EPA's reference concentration is the chronic exposure level below which adverse health effects are not likely to occur.


Kaiser Family Foundation. State Health Facts Online. (

Longview Power/GenPower, LLC Permit Application

National Center for Environmental Health. Air Pollution and Respiratory Health.

Pope CA. Epidemiology of fine particulate air pollution and human health: biologic mechanisms and who's at risk?. Environ Health Perspect. 108 Suppl 4 (713-723). 2000.

Seaton A, Seaton D, and Leitch AG, eds. Crofton and Douglas' Respiratory Diseases, Vol 2, 5th ed. Blackwell Sciences, Inc. Malden, MA. 2000.

Schneider CG. Dirty Air, Dirty Power: mortality and health damage due to air pollution from power plants. Clean Air Task Force. Boston. 2004. Available at

US EPA. Mercury and Human Health.

US EPA. Arsenic Compounds.

US EPA. Lead Compounds.