How To Deal With Pollution By Coal Dust, Coal Mining, Coal Pollution

How To Deal With Pollution By Coal Dust, Coal Mining, Coal Pollution 

Out of the many ways to produce energy needed to create electricity or steel, a key one is coal. Coal is available in abundance across the world and it can be easily mined.



Coal Pollution Facts

It is a low-cost raw material for energy production and hence is used in large quantities for generating it. However, excessive use of coal has resulted in immense pollution of the environment and hazard to human life.

Deal With Pollution By Coal Dust, Coal Mining, Coal Pollution
Deal With Pollution By Coal Dust, Coal Mining, Coal Pollution

What can be done to stop this problem? The use of technology that prevents bad emissions when coal is burnt and implementation of new processes by which coal burning is  more efficient helps to significantly reduce emissions.

Problems Caused By The Burning Of Coal

When burning coal what is released into the environment is gases such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon dioxide (CO2), Mercury and other heavy metals, fly ash, bottom ash and particulates.

Each of these pollutants can create severe and incurable health problems. For example, carbon-di-oxide is a greenhouse gas which causes depletion of the ozone layer, without which life on earth is endangered.

Another example is nitrogen oxide which are known to create respiratory illnesses and also lung diseases, which is also seen with sulfur di-oxide.

Coal mining water pollution

The release of mercury into the air and water is known to cause development problems and neurological damage in both humans and animals. The environment is also polluted heavily as can be see when sulphur-di-oxide a causes acid rain and nitrogen creates smog.

Why is coal bad for the environment?



If coal burning is posing such huge health problems and other complications, why is it still used.

Coal Burning Pollution

The primary reason is that it is a low-cost raw material for energy production and is available e around with world in abundance. It can be mixed with biomass field wherein it is required in lesser quantities for the same amount of energy production.

Effects of coal mining on human health

It can be burnt for 24 hours a day so energy can be obtained from it throughout the day.  Such being the benefits of using coal, steps need to be put in place, particularly in developing countries to prevent emission from causing huge health and environmental damage.

Steps Taken To Mitigate This Problem

The United States government has implemented the Clean Air Act and also the Clean Water Act which aim to drastically reduce pollution emissions into air and water bodies.

Currently, scientists in the United States are on the path to finding out how coal can be used to produce energy in a more efficient way and are trying to come up with a process through which it can be used to in gain energy, minus the pollution problems in the years to come. Here is a look at the many ways in which pollution from coal dust, coal mining, coal pollution can be controlled:

Check out Article on Jharia Coal Mines and Pollution Control 

  • Functioning of existing plants should be optimized so that they do not emit so much of polluted smoke and also to reduce the amount of electricity used for the purpose of burning coal to gain energy
  • Refine the way existing combustion technology works so that fewer emissions are let out and also making use of biomass as a fuel so that the amount of carbon-di-oxide is reduced
  • Conversion of coal into gas and removing various impurities in it so that it is combusted
  • Capturing carbon-di-oxide from flue gas, storing it underground and then reusing it
  • Implementing gas desulfurization equipment in coal power plants cleans away sulphur from the smoke generated by burning coal. The smoke is cleaned through the equipment also known as scrubbers and then leaves the smokestack.
  • Removing impurities from coal has resulting in obtaining higher quality of coal for burning, thus making it energy efficiency and also bringing down the amount of coal needed to produce a single unit of energy

Despite all these steps the real important action to be taken is the discovery of technological breakthrough by which coal-fired plants are able to give pure and affordable energy on a large scale for various purposes. One such breakthrough is CFB technology.



Benefits Of Circulating Fluidised-Bed (CFB) Technology 

This technology is already in place in various parts of the United States to ensure that burning of coal and any other fuel into energy is clean and environment friendly.

As the fuel here burns at an unusually low temperature, the result is very little emissions into the environment, unlike what is seen with traditional burning process. It can be used with coal and also other key fuels such as biomass, waste materials, tires, carbon-neutral fuels etc.

In a coal power plant, implementation of CFB technology results in recycling of fuel and limestone particles repeatedly, resulting in high efficiency when burning fuel, capturing any pollutants and then transferring the fuel’s heat energy into high quality steam for producing power.

How does coal mining affect the environment?

The key element that makes CFB technology reliable is the fact that it does not make use of burner inside a furnace to convert coal into energy. It implements a fluidization technology, wherein coal is mixed with limestone which is then burnt at a very low temperature.

How to reduce coal pollution

This process significantly reduces nitrogen oxide release and eliminates sulphur-di-oxide. Hence coal is burnt with the highest efficiency and the energy released is connected into high quality steam that is in turn used to produce power.

When carbon-di-oxide is released from the burning coal in power plants is captured in its concentrate form, sent via pipeline to an underground area or seabed.

Energy released from burning of coal is used to generate electricity but there is no harm done to the environment from CO2 release. This technology enables coal to be used like normal for production of energy, but removes all the negative effects of its burning, thus saving the environment and climate.

By enabling use of coal in a clean way, it removes hindrances to its usage for production of energy.



Jharia Coal Mines and Pollution Control

About India’s Jharia Coal Mines



It is surprising and also disturbing to note that what offers scope for huge commercial profits is also an immense source of pollution and the worst health ailments that mankind has ever known. We are talking about the Jharia coalfields.  It consists of 23 mines that lay underground and 9 large open ones, all now burning with high flames.

Jharia and its fire underground
Jharia and its fire underground

Jharia coalfield fire started 100 years ago



The fires raging in Jharia’s coal mines have been going on an astounding hundred years. It’s very difficult to put out any of them because once a coal seam has been ignited, unless it is snuffed early, it will go on for tens to even hundreds of years. So, though the abundant coal fields of Jharia are the most productive in the country, yielding very high quality coal, they are also the source of the worst pollutants.

Jharia coal Fire

Jharia Coal Mines and Pollution Control
Jharia Coal Mines and Pollution Control

A huge amount of poisonous gases are let into the atmosphere from mines on the surface. Furthermore, fires burning in the underground mines here have also created massive sinkholes that have taken the lives of many. Emissions from these fires are highly toxic as tests show that they have 40 to 50 hydrocarbons mentioned in britannica.com, many of which are carcinogenic. No steps were taken in the past on pollution and environment control here.

Impact of coal mining on the environment and people living close by 

Coal contains sulfur and many dangerous metals such as lead, arsenic and mercury, which get released into the air when it is burnt and this is great risk for our health . As coal is largely made up of carbon, it releases a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is known to increase the greenhouse effect and cause global warming. When coal is extracted on the subsurface area, the mines have a tendency to collapse thus trapping miners.

People living closely the mines get black lung disease from pollutants arising from burning coal and coal particles. They can also get lung inflammation and respiratory problems. Coal that is removed from mountains results in removal of layers from the mountain top, which changes the landscape and disrupts the fragile ecosystem in the area. The smoke can also affect water bodies, contaminate them and increase their acidity levels. Land around the coal mine is unfertile and no vegetation grows in it. The temperature of the area increases and this combined with smoke can cause suffocation.

Here is the report by New York Times



“Dr. S. K. Bhagania in his private clinic in Jharia, holding up an X-ray for a coal-mining patient revealing a mass in the lungs. Many of those working in the coal industry and living near the open fires suffer from severe respiratory ailments including tuberculosis, pneumoconiosis and asthma. Credit Souvid Datta”

Jharia People suffer from severe respiratory ailments
Jharia People suffer from severe respiratory ailments

If The Environment and Health Problems Due To Coal Mining Are So Bad, Why Are We Still Relying On Jharia Coal Mines as a Source of Energy?

The Jharia coal mines were initiated in the late 1800s. The first fire broke out in 1916 and till today, it continues to rage, thus contributing to global warming. The question arises… why any action is not taken by the government to stop work in these mines completely.

The answer is simple. These coal mines provide the highest quality coal in the country and mining coal from them fuels the country’s rapid economic growth.  It also stops the country from importing this grade of coal for energy purposes. While countries in the West are now thriving because of their huge technological advancement, developing nations like India, still really on coal resources for energy supply. Though the Modi Government has given hopes of making heavy investment into Solar energy, still it is not possible to move right away into it.

Furthermore, Jharia coal fields have not been used to their complete potential as a huge amount of coal is lost to burning fires. Before taking action on how to put out the fires, we must learn how much is financial lost by the burning fires. It is estimated that 37 million tons of coal, with could have fetched billions of dollars if they had been mined has been lost to the fires.

Adding to this is another 1.4 billion metric tons of coal which cannot be accessed anymore as raging fires are blocking them. These huge figures make it imperative for them to be put down right away so that their potential can be turned into a huge economical gain for the country.

By putting out the fires huge profits can be gained from them. Hence talks are in progress to have them put out for this purpose… the question is when will that happen completely?

What Is The Government Doing About The Health And Environmental Issues Of Coal Mining? 

The first step taken by the government towards this is seen in efforts to relocate villages and settlements at a further distance from the mines, so that the fires can be extinguished. This is also protecting people from the pollution caused by their flames. These activities are expensive and the estimated cost is 1 billion dollars.



The next step is initiation of activities that put out the fires. In case of near surface fires, the area above the fire has to be smoothened out so that heavy equipment can be taken over it. The entire fire zone is then cordoned into a grid structure and holes are drilled in it about 20 meters apart.

Water is injected into the holes and this process must go on for one or two years. The area should be then covered by silt. Underground fires can be extinguished by first isolating the affected area with dam constructions and then feeding an inert gas like nitrogen through pipelines into the area for a period of time to douse flames. These methods should be followed to put out Jharia coal field fires and make them usable again.

I have taken some photographs which has been used in Sabji Patti Jharia Durga Puja Pandal to show the truth about Jharia. Have a look:

Updated: 3-2-2019 Jharia has become the most polluted city in the whole country due to its coal dust

The Green Peace India has shared its report and found that Jharia has become the most polluted city in India. Dhanbad is in 9th position. Here is the newspaper cutting which I am going to share with you. After this news, Jharia people started movement to save Jharia.

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