Yardley Voice – Going Green Solar Column – February 2016
Submitted by Sarah Bergen, Blogger/Publicist, Exact Solar
Breathing clean air and drinking clean water is key to good health. However, water and atmospheric contamination caused by the extraction of fossil fuels poses major health risks. As a result, people around the world are plagued by unavoidable symptoms and illnesses, driving up health care costs and causing missed days from work and school.
But by switching to clean sources of energy such as solar, the health of Americans and the energy grid can become more resilient. The extraction and utilization of fossil fuels comes with a long list of costs to our health. The combustion of coal releases arsenic and mercury, which contaminate the atmosphere and water supplies surrounding power plants.
Exposure to mercury can damage the kidneys, brain, and nerves, as well as cause fetal damage during pregnancy, while exposure to arsenic can cause liver poisoning, liver cancer and keratosis of the hands and feet.
Oil spills can wreak havoc on the health of humans and marine life. Breathing in oil vapor can cause a slew of health issues including headaches, vomiting, eye irritation and difficulty breathing. The oil also contaminates fish and other creatures that are later consumed by humans.
While natural gas is marketed as a cleaner-burning fossil fuel, there are many health risks that come with extracting it. In order to fracture the ground and bring gas up to the surface, a mixture of toxic chemicals and water is blasted into the earth.
In addition, the leaking of methane from drilling sites poses serious health concerns. Inhaling methane can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty breathing, and contaminated water supplies are at risk of ignition or explosion.
When comparing energy sources, the full life-cycle costs must be considered – not simply the price on monthly bills that fail to reflect the hidden costs to health that we are all actually paying as a society.
Clean sources of energy such as solar can reduce or eliminate electric bills, decrease negative impact on the planet, and make all of its inhabitants healthier.