Dr. Alexander Hamling is a pediatrician in Seattle, Washington, who’s very worried about the mercury, soot, and smog pollution caused by coal plants across the state.
"These pollutants are extremely hazardous to human health, especially the health of children," explained Hamling, who works with the Sierra Club against the TransAlta coal plant.
TransAlta emits more than 350 pounds of mercury every year, which Hamling knows is a devastating neurotoxin that can permanently damage the brain, kidneys and developing fetus. Exposure to high levels of mercury has been linked to developmental delays and mental retardation.
Hamling said his state’s unnecessary use of coal making children sick and he isn’t about to sit back and do nothing while the Centers for Disease Control have identified Washington’s asthma prevalence as among the highest in the nation.
Fine particulate matter emitted during coal combustion is correlated to the development of lung cancer," he said. "A child's ability to be physically active should not be limited by unnecessary causes of lung disease."
At Dr. Hamling’s practice at Seattle's Children’s Hospital, he does everything in his power to keep his patients healthy.
"Once they are discharged from the hospital, they depend on the air they breathe and the water they drink to nourish them, not harm them. For the sake of our public health, we need a quick transition off of coal power."