Much of coal used in coal fired power plants are mined in a process called mountain top removal. This process involves blowing the tops off of mountains to reach the coal inside the mountain. This process destroys the mountain top, involves clear-cutting acres of forest and sullies surrounding water-ways.
When the coal is actually burned to generate electricity, it releases CO2, hydrogen cyanide, sulfur nitrate and sulfur dioxide among other noxious gasses in immense quantities.
The byproducts of burning coal are referred to as coal ash. Coal ash contains heavy metals such as arsenic, selenium, lead and chromium which are toxic and can cause damage to the nervous system.
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