Dispatch: Plant must find safer solution for coal ash

UC toxicologist explains risks associated with coal ash

The Columbus Dispatch turned to a University of Cincinnati aquatic toxicologist to explain the health risks associated with coal ash produced by power plants.

According to the Dispatch, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that an Ohio power plant may not continue to dispose of waste coal ash in an unlined pond. 

UC assistant professor Latonya Jackson is studying how estrogen released by sewage treatment plants affects freshwater fish. She is studying a tiny fish called a killifish.

UC toxicologist Latonya Jackson is an assistant professor in UC's College of Arts and Sciences. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

The John M. Gavin plant along the Ohio River burns coal to produce 2,600 megawatts of electricity for customers in southwest Ohio. But the plant is one of the biggest generators of greenhouse gas emissions among power plants in the United States.

According to the Dispatch, workers exposed to coal ash are more likely to be diagnosed with respiratory diseases such as COPD.

UC assistant professor Latonya Jackson told the Dispatch that coal ash contains toxins such as mercury and cadmium.

"It's in trace levels, but it's there," said Jackson, who studies aquatic toxicology in UC's College of Arts and Sciences. "I would hope that it would get regulated because it does pose a threat to human health."

In her lab, Jackson studies the long-term impacts of toxins on the growth, development and health of fish and other aquatic organisms.

The EPA says coal ash that leaches into groundwater can get into sources of drinking water.

Read the Columbus Dispatch story.

Featured image at top: UC assistant professor Latonya Jackson works with students in her biology lab. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

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