Air pollution from Thar’s coal mines, power plants to cause serious toxic deposition, health risks: Laurie’s Study

  • File ACJCE
  • File May 29, 2020 - May 29, 2020


Key Findings
Pakistan is already suffering from air pollution levels that are among the highest in the world, reducing life expectancy in the country by more than 2.5 years and increasing the vulnerability of Pakistanis to the COVID-19 pandemic.
● More than 95% of Pakistan’s installed coal-based electricity generation capacity (5090 MW) was commissioned during the past 3 years, with more than 6000 MW still in various stages of development. This is happening at a time when coal-based power plants and plans are being scrapped across the globe due to high climate, air pollution and economic impacts.
● A massive cluster of coal mines and power plants, with a total of 9 power plants and a total capacity of 3,700 megawatts is being proposed in the Thar region alone out of which 660 megawatts has already been commissioned at Thar Block II power station. The proposed plants would constitute one of the largest air pollutant, mercury and CO2 emissions hotspots in South Asia.
● The air pollutant emissions from the plants and mines would expose an estimated 100,000 people to exceedances of the World Health Organization guideline for 24-hour average SO2 concentrations and 3,000 people to exceedances of the guidelines for 24-hour average PM2.5 concentrations.
● The power plants and mines would be responsible for a projected 29,000 (95% confidence interval: 22,000-37,000) air pollution-related deaths over an operating life of 30 years. Other health impacts include 40,000 asthma emergency room visits, 19,900 new cases of asthma in children, 32,000 preterm births, 20 million days of work absence (sick leave) and 57,000 years lived with disability related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and stroke.
● The plants would emit an estimated 1,400 kg of mercury per year, of which one fifth would be deposited into land ecosystems in the region. Most of the deposition takes place onto cropland, increasing the mercury concentrations in crops. The levels of mercury deposition are potentially dangerous in an area with 100,000 inhabitants.