By Chris HallerThe coal dust that has swept through Ontario’s coal industry is a national problem.
About 80 per cent of the province’s electricity comes from coal-burning power plants, according to Ontario Power Generation.
There are now more than 70 coal power plants across the province, and they have been burning coal since the early 20th century.
The plants are located in rural and suburban areas.
“We have a coal dust problem, it’s just like air pollution,” said Alixo Hogue, the executive director of the Ontario Coal Association.
“There are people who are ill, and there are people dying from coal dust and other respiratory illnesses.”
“So the health impacts that are happening are in the community, they’re in the people who live near the power plant.”
Hogue says there are also environmental issues.
A study by the University of Ottawa found that the coal dust can harm the environment, and that it has been linked to a number of health issues.
“The effects of coal dust on the environment is huge, because it’s basically polluting the air with particulate matter,” said Hogue.
“And you can’t get rid of it.
And we know that air quality is going to suffer.””
It’s not only polluting our air, it also causes respiratory problems for people, and in fact, a number people have died from coal smoke,” said Bruce MacDonald, executive director for Environment Ontario.
“So it’s a major issue.”
MacDonald says the Ontario government is working to address the issue.
He says the province is planning to set up a committee to examine how to prevent coal dust.
The Ontario government says that will take place this summer.
It says it will be a priority to set a standard for air quality in coal plants, and will also work with industry to get rid the dust.
“This will be the first step, and I think it’s going to be the most challenging, but it’s also the most promising,” said MacDonald.