Every year, pollution by coal plants causes 23,000 premature deaths in the EU1. Coal mining activities emit SO2, NOx, coal dust, and mercury, which are detrimental to human health and cause air pollution3.
SO2 exposure can impair the functioning of the heart and lungs2. High levels of NOX can cause fluid build-up in the lungs2. Mercury vapors have toxic effects on the lungs, kidneys, nervous, immune, and digestive systems4. In the EU, the total SOx emissions were 2.3 million tonnes, and NOx emissions were 7.5 million tonnes in 20179. In 2016, the mercury emissions to air were 60 tonnes in the EU10;p52.
Endesa is one of the biggest energy companies in Spain and is one of the largest air polluters as it emits NOx, SO2, particle dust, and mercury.5;p44,. In 2019, the company’s specific SO2 emission was 0.43 g/kWh5;p256, and specific NOx emission was 0.94 g/kWh5;p44. In the same year, its specific particle emission was 0.02 g/kWh, and specific mercury emission was 0.001 mg/kWh5;p44.
According to International Institute of Law and Environment (IIDMA), air pollution has caused 1,529 premature deaths and 914 hospital admissions in Spain6. Besides, the coal plants in Spain caused 2,066 bronchitis cases and 20,112 days of asthma symptoms in asthmatic children6. Massimiliano Patierno, an environmental engineer of IIDMA, has said that the health impacts affect the whole of Spain not just the areas in close proximity to the coal-fired plants6.
Iberdrola’s pollutant levels are lower in comparison with Endesa’s emission levels due to their progression towards green energy production7. In 2019, its specific SO2 emission was 0.011 g/kWh, specific NOx emission was 0.326 g/kWh8;p209, and specific particle emission was 0.0007 g/kWh8;p210.
Endesa’s coal mining activities emit SO2, NOx, coal dust, and mercury, which cause severe air pollution. Endesa should follow companies like Iberdola and completely shift towards green energy to reduce their pollution impact.
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