Synopsis: Association Between Residence Near Surface Coal Mining and Blood Inflammation

Main points:

  • C-reactive protein in blood among mining community members is elevated for adults living near surface coal mines.
  • Counts of ambient particulate matter are higher in mining communities.
  • Self-reported health indicators are worse in mining communities.

Overview Summary:

Study Background:

  1. All participants were non-smokers and non-miners without acute illness.
  2. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory marker produced in the liver in response to cytokine signaling.
  3. High levels of CRP are predictive of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and poor lung function.
  4. Coal mining is predominately a rural-based activity and is known to increase localized ambient particulate matter.
  5. The purpose of the current study was to test whether levels of C-reactive protein were significantly elevated in a rural sample living proximate to surface coal mining activity.
  6. Secondary goals were to gather additional evidence on levels of particulate matter and self-reported health for mining and non-mining community residents.


  1. Outdoor and indoor air particulate matter samples were taken at 51 participants homes. Indoor particulate matter amounts per cubic meter were statistically significant for mining communities compared to non-mining communities. (Mean of 0.5 µm particle count per cubic foot in mining communities= 469,609. Mean of 5.0 µm particle count per cubic foot in mining communities = 3768. Mean of 0.5 µm particle count per cubic foot in non-mining communities= 151,018. Mean of 5.0 µm particle count per cubic foot in non-mining communities = 2715.)
  2. Outdoor particulate matter amounts per cubic meter were also statistically significant (higher) in mining communities than non-mining communities.
  3. Anything above 3.0 mg/L of CRP has been used to identify persons at risk for cardiovascular disease and other conditions; we found that the average adjusted C-reactive protein level for residents near mining operations exceeded this cut-point at 4.9 mg/L, compared to 0.6 mg/L in the non-mining control sample.
  4. Persons living in communities near surface mining had significantly elevated odds of a self-reported cardiopulmonary condition.


  1. This paper shows evidence for biological impact among people living in mining communities.
  2. The missing connectors will need to measure environmental exposure, dose, and biological impact all among the same persons who live in mining communities versus controls who do not.

Policy Considerations:

  1. Prudent steps include more effective regulatory control over surface mining practices, or in the case of MTR, the complete termination of the practice altogether.

Funded By:

  1. Indiana University Bloomington was a medium for compensation for the contracted employees used to collect data, study logistics, and lab analysis.


  • Hendryx, M. ( 1 ), and J. ( 2 ) Entwhistle. “Association Between Residence Near Surface Coal Mining And Blood Inflammation.” Extractive Industries And Society2 (2015): 246-251. Scopus®. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

Association between residence near surface coal mining and blood inflammation

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