149979 Residential Proximity to Coal Mining and Health Indicators in West Virginia

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Michael Hendryx, PhD , Department of Community Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Melissa Ahern, MBA, PhD , Department of Health Policy and Administration, Washington State University, Spokane, WA
Objectives. This study investigates the relationship between health status, chronic disease, and residential proximity to coal mining sites by mining volume among adults in West Virginia. Methods. Data are merged from several sources and analyzed. Data include responses from a 2001 telephone survey of 16,493 adult West Virginians, county-level data on 2001 coal production figures measured in tons, and county level smoking rates. Multi-level linear and Bernoulli models are created to examine the relationship between health variables, including self-reported health status and presence of chronic illnesses, and coal production, controlling for age, sex, income, education, health insurance, and smoking rates. Results. After adjustments for social and economic confounds, greater coal production is associated with worse reported health status, and with higher rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, lung disease, and kidney disease. Control illnesses such as diabetes do not show elevated adjusted rates. Results are present for women and men and so are not explained by miners who live in the area. Conclusions. Proximity to coal mining sites in West Virginia is related to certain types of chronic illness and to lower self-reported health status. The risks increase as a function of the mining intensity. Additional research is required to identify mechanisms of action and to ascertain the magnitude and consequences of a byproduct exposure effect. Policies are in place for protecting miners and for reducing air pollution from burning coal, but policies to protect residents of mining communities are lacking.

Learning Objectives:
Identify chronic health conditions associated with the intensity of coal mining activity in West Virginia counties. Evaluate strengths and limitations of the evidence for the association. Recognize current policy limitations and future policy implications for protecting residents of mining communities from exposure to coal mining byproducts.

Keywords: Environmental Exposures, Chronic Diseases

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.