ALLIANCE – Coal fired electric plants are not what they used to be. Many think of black smoke pouring from smoke stacks like these plants did during the American Industrial Revolution. Now, the “white smoke” one can see rising out of the smokestacks is virtually nothing but carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Coal allows us to produce electricity for a large part of the country, but the so called “waste products” are filtered from the smoke or otherwise captured and used for a wide variety of reasons.
One thing coal provides for us are topical medications produced from coal tar.
The WebMD website explains coal tar belongs to a class of drugs known as keratoplastics. It is used to treat a variety of skin conditions such as psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and eczema. It is also used to treat itching, scaling and flaking due to these conditions.
Wikipedia defines coal tar as a very thick, dark liquid with a number of medical and industrial uses.
Coal tar causes the skin to shed dead cells from the top layer of skin and slows down cell growth and decreases scaling and dryness. With cases of psoriasis, the coal tar may be used together with ultraviolet light therapy.
This medication is used on the skin only. Contact with the eyes, nose, mouth, groin or rectum can cause irritation, and to flush those areas with cool water for 15 minutes. One should always wash their hands after applying this to the skin.
Without the use of coal, a new method of treating these skin conditions would have to be developed. Coal tar is used for medical purposes since the 1800’s as a safe and effective treatment of these skin conditions.
When looking at alternative energy sources, one may need to look at how coal burning byproducts are used to build homes, improve skin conditions, the preservation of railway ties and improving the surface of pavement roads.
Coal serves many purposes aside of the generation of electricity, so ending the mining and burning of coal means the end of many products. It would be necessary to find alternatives for these products as well.
The coal industry continues to improve filtration, and new methods of catching a majority of the carbon dioxide are now used in many plants. What was once pollution is now a staple ingredient in a wide range of usable products.