The smoke from coal power plants is exceedingly dangerous to human health.
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When coal is burned it releases a number of airborne toxins and pollutants. They include mercury, lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and various other heavy metals. Health impacts can range from asthma and breathing difficulties, to brain damage, heart problems, cancer, neurological disorders, and premature death.
Although limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have helped prevent some of these emissions, many plants don’t have the necessary pollution controls installed. The future of these protections remains unclear.