Coal Ash

Coal Ash Coal ash is the mineral matter present in the coal. It is a waste which is left after coal is combusted (burned). It is the particulate material which remains after coal is burned. It includes fly ash (fine powdery particles which are carried up the smoke stack and captured by pollution control devices) as well as coarser materials which fall to the bottom of the furnace. It has different physical and chemical properties depending on the geochemical properties of the coal being used and how that coal is burned. Coal ash is also referred to as coal combustion residuals. It has very little organic fraction. Chemical constituents of coal ash may include nitrogen (N2), sulphur (S), unburned carbon (C), heavy metals, radioactive elements, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Coal ash also contains coarse particles and fine particles which can be inhaled and may contribute to public health and environmental problems. Coal ash contains many toxic contaminants. When coal ash spills, leaks or leaches into nearby ground water or waterways, the toxins contained within pose serious health risks to nearby communities. Depending on where the coal was mined, coal ash typically contains heavy metals including arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and selenium, as well as aluminum, antimony, barium, beryllium, boron, chlorine, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, thallium, vanadium, and zinc. If eaten, drunk or inhaled, these toxicants can cause cancer and nervous system impacts such as cognitive deficits, developmental delays and behavioral problems. They can also cause heart damage, lung disease, respiratory distress, kidney disease, reproductive problems, gastrointestinal illness, birth defects, and impaired bone growth in children. A large amount of coal ash is disposed in dry landfills, frequently at the power plant where the coal was burned. Coal can also be mixed with...