Doctors urge Carmichael mine residents to get health checks

Doctors have urged people living near the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine to get their health checked now to compare in the future.

David King, a Doctors for the Environment Australia member, Brisbane-based GP and senior lecturer at the University of Queensland’s school of medicine, said residents that may be exposed to the Carmichael mine, as well as the train lines servicing the operation, need a baseline to compare their health in the future, in case they become unwell when the mine is in full swing.

“I certainly would, because if I developed problems I could more easily prove it wasn’t from my exposure to something else 20 or 30 years ago,” he said in a Fairfax Media report.

Another DEA member, Mackay-based paediatrician Michael Williams, said not enough had been done to measure the potential health impact of the mine, which is expected to produce 60 million tonnes of coal per year.

“Coal miners are at increased risk of occupational accidents from exposure to coal dust, which is highlighted by the re-emergence of ‘black lung’ in the Bowen Basin, Windborne invisible coal particles are also a risk to a wider population,” Dr Williams said.

He said exposure to pollution from coal even at low levels is linked to a range of serious and potentially fatal illnesses such as heart and respiratory diseases, including lung cancer.

The Adani mine was approved last year with the “strictest conditions ever” handed down.

In an ABC News report last week, it was revealed that there is no monitoring of air pollution in Central Queensland with residents and community members unaware their health could be suffering.

Emerald GP Ewen McPhee said “As a doctor, you see people with asthma,  you see people with a lot of allergic problems… but you also see people with heart disease, you see people with chronic lung problems, and it’s not just bad luck,” Emerald GP Ewen McPhee said on the report.

“If we put our head in the sand and we ignore it, then we won’t find problems until people are actually suffering significant illnesses.”

The State Government operates just one air quality monitoring station in Moranbah, with no plans to roll out more in the region.

“It’s important for everyone to make sure that these things are monitored – that people have an understanding of what the levels are so that they can make decisions about their own health, their families health,” Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire said.

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  1. Gordon Saul

    I am not sure congratulations to the Australian Mining Review are in order for simply simply oxygenating this argument for the anti-mining brigade.

    Perhaps we could talk about the many people who will not suffer respiratory illness from being able to cook with electricity generated from Galilee Basin coal, or who may be able to advance their education, and enjoy an improved standard of living through the availability of cheap, reliable electricity.

    In reality, the anti-mining zealots are being incredibly mean minded, without a thought or care for the millions of people world wide without access to reliable, affordable electricity.

    They would rather somehow soothe their own conscience without recognition that Australian coal is produced under the most stringent environmental requirements in the world, and turn their backs on the coal that will be produced in other, less well regulated jurisdictions to replace that not produced in Australia. Aside from the sheer bloody mindedness of the approach, it is madness to deny economic prosperity to your country for no net gain.

    So while we should be vigilant about ensuring that we minimise potential health and environmental impacts from any development, perhaps if the good doctors above would put themselves in the shoes of those that carry firewood long distances for cooking fuel, that struggle to read without decent light, or have no refridgeration, or the many other benefits we derive from a developed electricity system, they would have less of a “holier than thou” attitude.


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