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Effects Of Coal Mining In Kentucky

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From buildings to roadways, concrete can be found in many aspects of life. While most view concrete as what is used in sidewalks and mortars, what they don’t see is how it can save a community. In my community, coal mining is not only the largest source of electrical energy but a job source for thousands of miners. While everyone benefits from the energy created, the damaging effects of coal consumption are visible everywhere. Mountaintops are being dumped into freshwater rivers and lakes. Not only are ecosystems destroyed, but the health of the community is in jeopardy due to the toxins. Eliminating pollution from coal would drastically improve the quality of life of Kentucky residents. It is at this point that concrete comes in. Concrete can be mixed with coal ash to make life better for the people in the community.

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One of the largest issues currently found in Kentucky is the effects of coal mining. The waste deposits of coal can be found contaminating the environment across the country; however, the problem has a greater impact on my local community. Currently, lawsuits against corporate coal companies can be found for the pollution of waterways. For example, Herrington Lake, a lake just 20 minutes from my home, was found to have augmented levels of selenium and arsenic due to pollution from coal mines. Wildlife in and surrounding the lake have been found to have serious physical deformities. Water testing in the area found selenium levels in fish at 98 times the legal limit. An unsung solution to the problem of coal pollution can be found in concrete.

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, noncombustible remains from coal-burning are deposited at a rate of about 131 million tons per year in the United States. New studies have found this same coal combustion waste can be used in concrete. Fly ash, a waste product that is captured by filters after the coal combustion process, is considered to be the perfect binder for different types of concrete. It has been seen to have self-cementing properties and can withstand wear better than any normal concrete. When fly ash is mixed into fresh concrete, the fresh concrete “activates” the ash, which forms a binder that adds strength. Adding fly ash to concrete not only makes it stronger, but it stops the pollution from entering the environment. The heavy metals and chemicals it contains become immobilized with the concrete, in which they are no longer able to pollute our water sources. Ecosystems have collapsed, species have gone extinct, and irreversible global warming has crept into the minds of those who watch the news. But by removing large quantities of noncombustible remains from the environment, the effects of coal on the environment are minimized. Concrete can be used to help better my community by reducing some of the effects of coal mining on the environment.

Pollution due to coal is a danger to the way of life of Kentuckians. Contaminated waterways are unsafe to drink or to participate in aquatic activities. Microparticles from coal ash enter the air and cause medical conditions in those living in the surrounding areas. Allowing for concrete to reuse fly ash promotes a more eco-friendly environment and a push towards a more industrialized society. 

10 Jun 2021

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