Trace elements can have profound adverse effects on the health of people burning coal in homes or living near coal deposits, coal mines, and coal- burning power plants. Trace elements such as arsenic emitted from coal- burning power plants in Europe and Asia have been shown to cause severe health problems. Perhaps the most widespread health problems are caused by domestic coal combustion in developing countries where millions of people suffer from fluorosis and thousands from arsenism. Better knowledge of coal quality characteristics may help to reduce some of these health problems. For example, information on concentrations and distributions of potentially toxic elements in coal may help delineate areas of a coal deposit to be avoided. Information on the modes of occurrence of these elements and the textural relations of the minerals in coal may help to predict the behavior of the potentially toxic trace metals during coal cleaning, combustion, weathering, and leaching.
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Trace elements in coal. Environmental and health significance