Every year 24,000 people die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Every year 38,000 heart attacks occur because of pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Every year 12,000 hospital admissions and 550,000 people suffering asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.
Every year, coal-fired power plants release 48 tons of mercury nationwide.
Power plants release over 40% of total U.S. C02 emissions, a primary contributor to global warming...
...and yet the coal industry wants you to believe that building more coal fired power plants in Michigan is a good idea!
...and now utilities want to burn (as biomass) our trees that capture and store harmful carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we need to live
Ash and Toxic Waste | SMOKE & EMISSIONS | ASH & TOXIC WASTE | HEALTH EFFECTS
Biomass and the Problems with Ash
Many of the process problems in operating biomass plants have been ash-related, especially when biomass burners reach a utility scale. Biomass materials have significant inorganic matter contents and many of the problems encountered with the combustion of biomass materials are associated with the nature and the behaviour of the biomass ash components and the other inorganic constituents. For biomass gasification and pyrolysis systems, the ash-related issues are largely similar to those for combustion, i.e. the accumulation of ash material within the reactor and associated equipment, the impact of ash on the integrity of the process plant and heat exchangers and the ash-related environmental impact of the process.
Ash related problems in wood fired boilers
In the ash one can distinguish inorganic components contained in the biomass, as well as extraneous inorganic material. Ash may result in the formation and emission of sub-micron aerosols and fumes, and have various impacts on the performance of flue gas cleaning equipment. Finally, ash contained in biomass has consequences on the handling and the utilisation/disposal of ash residues from biomass combustion plants, and of the mixed ash residues from the co-firing of biomass in coal-fired boilers.
Effects of wood ash application that drains to lakes
To assess environmental risks of wood ash, limnological effects of ash application to the drainage basins of two small, humic lakes and one reference lake in southern Finland were examined in this three-year study. Treated areas corresponded to 12 and 19% of the total catchment and the amount of wood ash added was 6400 kg ha(-1). Immediate effects of wood ash on lake water were investigated in three tank experiments each lasting 1.5 wk. In tank experiments, addition of wood ash increased pH, alkalinity, conductivity, and Ca and P concentrations of humic lake water, while growth of phytoplankton decreased. After wood ash application to the subcatchments, pH, alkalinity, conductivity, and concentrations of K+, SO4(2-), and Cl- slightly increased, both in inflowing waters and in the lakes, but no increased leaching of Ca, N, or P from the treated subcatchments occurred. Phytoplankton biomass increased in both experimental lakes in comparison with the reference lake. In the lake with 19% application rate to the catchment, zooplankton biomass also increased. The results indicate that, over the short term, a small-scale ash treatment to a forested drainage basin will not necessarily cause significant changes in the water quality of boreal humic lakes, but at higher application rates, changes in water chemistry and biology are more evident.
Dioxin Toxic Equivalent Concentrations in Wood Ash
The purpose of this study was to quantify toxic equivalent (TEQ) concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzo- p -dioxins (PCDD), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDF), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) in ash residues generated by wood-fired boilers in Washington state (USA). With non-detects (ND) set to one-half the detection limit (DL) and employing mammalian toxic equivalency factors (TEF) recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), TEQ ranged from 0.36 to 11000 ng/kg ( n = 13). When the three highest samples were removed, mean TEQ declined dramatically from 840 ng/kg ( n = 13) to 2.2 ng/kg ( n = 10) with a corresponding fall in standard deviation from 3000 to 2.0 ng/kg. Two TEF methods (WHO vs . U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [USEPA]) were compared and three ND methods were evaluated (denoted by N1, N2, and N3 corresponding to ND = 0, ND = 0.5 DL, and ND = DL, respectively). Although TEQ was significantly correlated (Bonferroni P <0.05) across the three ND methods, median TEQ differed significantly ( P <0.05) among the ND methods with N1<N2<N3. For N2 and N3 methods, median PCDD/PCDF TEQ was significantly higher (Bonferroni P <0.05) when calculated with TEFs employed by WHO vs . USEPA. When wood ash is used as a liming agent or soil amendment, modeled steady-state soil TEQ may be in the range of regulatory benchmarks, depending on wood ash TEQ content and application rate. Overall, these data illustrate the high variability in wood ash TEQ, the notable impact of TEF and ND methods on reported TEQ, and the potential human and ecological concern associated with land application of wood ash and increased soil TEQ.
Biological Effects of Wood Ash Application to Forest and Aquatic Ecosystems
The present review aims to summarize current knowledge in the topic of wood ash application to boreal forest and aquatic ecosystems, and the different effects derived from these actions. Much research has been conducted regarding the effects of wood ash application on forest growth. Present studies show that, generally speaking, forest growth can be increased on wood ash–ameliorated peatland rich in nitrogen. On mineral soils, however, no change or even decreased growth have been reported. The effects on ground vegetation are not very clear, as well as the effects on fungi, soil microbes, and soil-decomposing animals. The discrepancies between different studies are for the most part explained by abiotic factors such as variation in fertility among sites, different degrees of stabilization, and wood ash dosage used, and different time scales among different studies. The lack of knowledge in the field of aquatic ecosystems and their response to ash application is an important issue for future research. The few studies conducted have mainly considered changes in water chemistry. The biotoxic effects of ash application can roughly be divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Among the primary effects is toxicity deriving from compounds in the wood ash and cadmium is probably the worst among these. The secondary effects of wood ash are generally due to its alkaline capacity and a release of ions into the soil and soil water, and finally, watercourses and lakes. Given current knowledge, we would recommend site- and wood ash–specific application practices, rather than broad and general guidelines for wood ash application to forests.
Wood Ash use in forestry: A Review of the Environmental Impacts
Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in the US, ash is not classified as a hazardous waste, because there are no pH criteria for solids. However, the state of Washington classifies wood ash as dangerous waste when the pH exceeds 12.5 and ash use is under licence in New York State. In Maine and New Hampshire ash use in agriculture is regulated by requiring the land owner to prepare an application for land spreading which includes soil and topographic maps, and subsequent soil analyses. The resultant use of ash on land rather than in landfill cuts the costs of disposal for the producing companies. European regulations limiting maximum metal concentrations allowed in soils treated with ash are more stringent than those in the US. The variability of the trace elements Zn, Cr, Ni and Cu in bottom ash means these might potentially exceed safe limits. Excesses of wood ash inhibits both the germination and initial growth of tree seedlings.
Aquatic ecological risks due to cyanide releases from biomass burning
"Burning of biomass such as wood, grass, and leaves can release dangerous amounts of cyanide, which can poison water supplies. A study of wildfire in North Carolina fount that nearby streams were contaminated with 49 parts per billion of cyanide, a level high enough to kill rainbow trout. Forest and brush fires may play a major role in fish kill."
Properties of Wood for Combustion Analysis
Analysis and modeling of combustion in stoves, furnaces, boilers and industrial processes require adequate knowledge of wood properties. Detailed computer modeling of combustion processes requires accurate property values, and these properties are not generally available in one reference source. The objectives of this paper are to review existing property data on wood which are needed for the analysis of combustion systems and to suggest properties that need further quantification. Fuel properties for combustion analysis