Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Disease in rural China linked to polluted coal

Date:
October 20, 2010
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
In remote, rural areas of southwestern China, villagers cook and dry their clothes by burning pieces of coal they pick up off the ground. This fuel releases a toxin that may be poisoning millions of people, according to an ongoing investigation by researchers in New York and China.

In remote, rural areas of southwestern China, villagers cook and dry their clothes by burning pieces of coal they pick up off the ground. This fuel releases a toxin that may be poisoning millions of people, according to an ongoing investigation by chemists at the University at Buffalo in New York. The researchers are presenting their work at the AVS 57th International Symposium & Exhibition in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The toxin in question is fluoride, which binds to calcium in the human body and causes the disease fluorosis. This condition, which affects millions in China's Guizhou province, can cause dental problems, such as discolored and pitted teeth, as well as joint pain, muscular degeneration, and deformities in joints and the spine.

Worldwide, the most common source of excess fluoride is polluted water. But according to Joseph Gardella, a chemist at UB who has collaborated on a research project with Professor Handong Liang of the China University of Mining and Technology, Beijing (CUMTB), polluted coal may also be to blame.

"Careful research supported by the Chinese government eliminated water as the source, and pointed to air pollution from coal fired home fireplace," says Gardella. "The government has focused on finding solutions to the health issues resulting from the pollution in the villages and in identifying solutions to eliminating the pollution sources."

Gardella and graduate student Brett Yatzor analyzed samples of the coal gathered by the villagers using a variety of imaging techniques -- including Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, which reveals not only the composition of a sample but also its chemical structure.

"When you just look at coal, it looks pretty homogenous," says Yatzor. "But when you do a chemical ion image, you can see that it's very heterogeneous."

Yatzor's imaging showed that -- like purer coals burned by power plants -- the carbon in the coal itself contained little fluorine. However, the inorganic clay used as an additive for coal-burning and as a binder in briquette-making by local residents showed very high levels of fluorine.

The scientists are still investigating exactly how this fluorine enters the human body. It might be inhaled in the particles produced when coal is burned in the villagers' closed, ventless huts. It could also be ingested; preliminary analyses of food samples such as chilies and corn have shown high levels of the toxin.

As the scientists' work continues, the Chinese government has put in place programs to install chimneys that would improve the ventilation of smoke in the huts and allow particulates to escape.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Disease in rural China linked to polluted coal." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019183539.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2010, October 20). Disease in rural China linked to polluted coal. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019183539.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Disease in rural China linked to polluted coal." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019183539.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins