Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Study documents health hazard from coal trains

Share

Open coal trains passing through the Columbia River Gorge emit far more harmful particulate matter than other diesel trains, according to new research led by University of Washington professor Dan Jaffe.

The team led by Jaffe, a professor of atmospheric and environmental chemistry, found twice as much PM 2.5, particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, is emitted by coal trains than by regular diesel trains.

The team also found that 5.4 percent of all coal trains were “super dusters,” generating visible dust plumes that were captured on video camera, showing they have the highest concentration of respirable particulate matter.

PM 2.5 particles can lodge into the lungs, causing respiratory and cardiovascular ailments and premature death.

Coal and railroad companies say surfactant sprayed onto open coal trains prevents most of the coal dust from leaving the trains.

However, at places along the rail tracks, such as near Hood River, it’s possible to pick up bits of coal chunks along the railroad tracks used by coal trains.

Coal dust from trains shows up in videos

Open coal trains passing through the Columbia River Gorge emit far more harmful particulate matter than other diesel trains, according to new research led by University of Washington professor Dan Jaffe.

The team led by Jaffe, a professor of atmospheric and environmental chemistry, found twice as much PM 2.5, particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, is emitted by coal trains than by other diesel trains.

The team also found that 5.4 percent of all coal trains were “super dusters,” generating visible dust plumes that were captured on video camera, showing they have the highest concentration of respirable particulate matter.

PM 2.5 particles can lodge into the lungs, causing respiratory and cardiovascular ailments and premature death.

Coal and railroad companies say surfactant sprayed onto open coal trains prevents most of the coal dust from leaving the trains.

However, at some places along railroad tracks used by coal trains, such as near White Salmon, Wash., it’s possible to pick up tiny chunks of coal from the ground.

The Alliance for NW Jobs & Exports, a Seattle-based trade group that supports coal exports, claims the study was biased because it was funded in part by donations from the Sierra Club.

"Mr. Jaffe continues to recklessly misrepresent scientific findings in pursuit of a misguided political agenda — this is not only bad science, it is bad policy," says alliance spokeswoman Kathryn Stenger.

The University of Washington study was released in a recent peer-reviewed article in Atmospheric Pollution Research.

To see the abstract: www.sciThe University of Washington study was released this week in a peer-reviewed article in Atmospheric Pollution Research.

To see the abstract: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1309104215000057

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

503-546-5139

@SteveLaw/Trib