The researchers behind the report took a two-fold approach to ascertain their estimates. First, they used meteorological computer simulations to work out where the air pollution from these power plants was most likely traveling during 2013. Second, health problems and mortality rates were calculated using robust multiplier calculations developed by the World Health Organization, based on the most up-to-date science on human health and air pollution.
Not only is coal by far the greatest producer of carbon dioxide compared to all other sources of energy, but it produces a range of pollutants, many of which are particulate in nature – those that contain small, lacerating, volatile components, all of which are incredibly hazardous when inhaled. They can also easily enter the bloodstream through the lungs, which means that the rest of the body, and in particular the cardiovascular system, is also at risk.
About 83 percent of deaths are said to be directly blamed on inhaling this particulate matter, which include strokes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and lung cancer.
Despite having almost no coal in its national energy ix - France is largely nuclear-powered - it suffers greatly from neighboring coal-fired power plant pollution sources. WWF/Health and Environment Alliance/Sandbag/Greenpeace/Climate Action Network Europe
The work, admittedly, has not been officially peer-reviewed, but its methodology is sound, if somewhat simple. In fact, its estimates may be underplaying things somewhat – one previous study by the UK-based Royal Colleges of Physicians (RCP) and of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) suggested over 40,000 premature annual deaths in the UK alone are linked to air pollution, nearly twice that of this report’s estimate of the total number of air pollution-related deaths across the entire EU.