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ALLIANCE – When some people see or think about a coal burning power plant, they may think of black smoke pumping into the atmosphere. Now, white smoke, which is mostly steam, is not full of the particulates as they were years ago.

Coal is used to provide electricity for the public. Even if one drives an electrically powered vehicle, the electricity is produced somewhere. Many of the so called “green” vehicles run on electricity. These vehicles only seem “green” because the owner or driver does not see the pollution directly. This fits the idea of “out of sight, out of mind.

The black smoke one would see during the industrial revolution is now filtered, and the white smoke coming out of these smokestacks is almost all water vapor.

Coal is used to produce much more than electricity. The byproducts of coal are used for a multitude of reasons and in multiple products.

According to information from the Environmental Protection Agency, “Coal ash, also referred to as coal combustion residuals or CCRs, is produced primarily from the burning of coal in coal-fired power plants.

Coal Ash as well as coal tar, coal pitch, coal creosotes and other byproducts of the combustion of coal in an oxygen free environment are utilized in many ways. Each of these byproducts is further broken down to produce a wide variety of consumer goods.

“The dry coal ash produced by fossil fuel plants isn’t just waste—the gypsum, fly ash and slag it contains can be sold for reuse in commercial building materials and more,” the Tennessee Valley Authority reported. “Fly ash can be used in wallboard and the gypsum can be used in cement. Slag can be used in abrasives and in roofing materials.”

Coal Tar is used for making medications with individuals with certain skin conditions such as eczema, atopic dermatitis, chronic exudative dermatitis and more according to WebMd. These medications also reduce the itching caused by these skin conditions.

Flue-gas contains calcium sulfate and calcium sulfide. This “waste” is used in the making of synthetic gypsum used in concrete and wallboard.

Fly-ash is used in cement with contents ranging from 55% to 60% fly-ash, according to Proceedings of the International Workshop on Sustainable Development and Concrete Technology

This workshop involved the collaboration of scientists and scholars with an overall wide range of scientific fields.

The addition of fly-ash increased the resistance to repeated cycles of freezing and thawing, deicing salt scaling resistant, resistance to chloride-ion penetration, and resistance to sulfate attack, the workshop reports

Adding a high content of fly-ash increases the lifespan of the cement from 30 to 100 years over the traditional portland cement. The production of one ton of portland cement generates approximately one ton of carbon dioxide.

So it is evident the use of coal burning byproducts impacts much more than the production of electricity. There are many industrial, commercial and medical uses stemming from the use of coal.

Very little of the byproducts of coal go without use. A majority of them are used in everyday products. Many consumers do not realize how much they utilize the resulting “waste” material every day. Without the use of coal, many every day products will disappear.

Even tires, roofing tar and black soled shoes contain byproducts of coal. There are many things people will have to learn to live without if fighting in opposition to the use of coal.