Q:

What are the disadvantages of coal?

A:

Quick Answer

The primary disadvantages of coal stem from its adverse health and environmental effects. Burning coal produces harmful waste, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphuric acids and arsenic. Coal-fired power plants are responsible for roughly 24,000 premature deaths each year in the United States, with 2,800 deaths from lung cancer alone.

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Full Answer

As of 2014, annual health costs from coal producing electricity in Europe exceed $55 billion. Coal-fired power plants contaminate waterways, making water unsuitable for consumption. Thousands of coal fires burn worldwide. These fires are hard to pinpoint and cannot be extinguished when underground, often leading to surface wildfires. Coal can be cleaned or turned into a liquid gas to be less harmful, but the technology to achieve this has not been fully developed.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the hardness of coal?

    A:

    The most common type of coal is anthracite, which has a hardness of 2.2 when compared to the Moh's scale of mineral hardness, according to the Ted Pella website. However, since coal is not a mineral, it is not officially measured in this way.

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  • Q:

    When was coal discovered?

    A:

    The first recorded discovery of coal in the United States is believed to be on the Illinois River in 1679 by French explorers. Historians, though, believe that the Chinese discovered coal more than 3,000 years ago.

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  • Q:

    What are the uses of coal?

    A:

    According to the World Coal Association, the primary uses of coal are in electricity generation, the creation of liquid fuel, the production of steel and cement manufacturing. There are two primary types of coal, thermal coal and metallurgical coal. Thermal coal goes into fuel and electricity applications, while metallurgical coal is better suited to manufacturing and chemical applications.

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  • Q:

    Why is coal not considered a mineral?

    A:

    Coal is not considered a mineral because it does not have a solid, uniform crystal structure, meaning it doesn't fit the primary definition of a mineral. Coal is primarily made of carbon, but its properties can vary even within the same deposit.

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