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Aim: Coal fly ash (CFA) is a significant contributor to ambient air pollution in India and China, but regulations require its trapping and sequestering in Western nations. Members of the public chronically exposed to aerosolized CFA are likely to have an increased incidence of respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Our objective is to review the multiple chemical constituents of aerosolized CFA in connection with their potentiality to cause COPD and respiratory disease.
Methods: We review the interdisciplinary medical, public health, and scientific literature.
Results: Tropospheric geoengineering is and has been undertaken since the beginning of the 21st century, with increasing frequency and duration, without public discussion and without disclosure of the particulate matter composition being placed into the air we breathe, or its effects on biota including humans. Published data is consistent with the primary constituent being CFA, the toxic waste-product of coal-burning. We review and to bring together evidence spread throughout the medical/scientific literature that bears on the health risks posed by particulate matter, and especially CFA, aerosolized in industrial settings and in the troposphere during geoengineering activities and to consider in particular the potential consequences on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory disease.
Conclusion: Aerosolized CFA is a particularly hazardous form of deliberate air pollution. Ultrafine particles and nanoparticles found in coal fly ash can be inhaled into the lungs and produce many toxic effects including decreased host defenses, tissue inflammation, altered cellular redox balance toward oxidation, and genotoxicity. Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can predispose to chronic lung disease. Recognition and public disclosure of the adverse health effects of geoengineering projects taking place in our skies, and their concomitant cessation will be necessary to prevent an ever-widening epidemic of COPD and other respiratory illnesses.