Public invited to Oct. 2-3 talks on health hazards related to coal

"The Silent Epidemic - Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health," is the topic of two lectures.

“The Silent Epidemic – Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health,” is the topic of two lectures presented by an expert on medical problems related to coal – from mining to disposal – this week. The lectures are sponsored by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Alan Lockwood, M.D., emeritus professor of neurology and nuclear medicine at the State University of New York School of Medicine, Buffalo, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, at the First Methodist Church, Room 112, 7020 Cass St. He also will talk at noon on Oct. 3 at the UNMC College of Public Health, Room 3013.

Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Dr. Lockwood has examined every aspect of coal, from its complex chemical makeup to details of mining, transporting, burning and disposal. He has found that each contribute to significant health concerns, even though “exposure to coal-derived pollution” is not listed on a single death certificate. Instead, causes of death listed are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung and other cancers, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.

Many Nebraskans live near a coal burning facility in Omaha, Nebraska City, Sutherland, Hallam, Hastings, Fremont, Grand Island and across the river from Bellevue in Iowa. 

“It is critical to ensure the air we breathe is safeguarded. Over time we’ve come to learn how serious the consequences of air pollution are on the health of children, the elderly and low-income communities living near industrial facilities and power plants,” Dr. Lockwood said.

He also will address the significant impact of coal on global warming. Coal is the fossil fuel that releases the most global warming gases per unit of energy generated. He will discuss and recommend policy approaches to combat coal pollution.

Dr. Lockwood is a graduate of Cornell University and Cornell University Medical College and was trained in neurology at the University of California San Francisco with post-residency training in neurochemistry and use of radionuclides at Cornell University Medical College and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He is board certified in neurology, a member of the American Neurological Association and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

He is the author of approximately 220 publications on diverse scientific topics ranging from hepatic encephalopathy, medical problems of musicians to functional imaging of the auditory system, tinnitus and environmental toxicants. He has been an active member of Physicians for Social Responsibility for three decades and was national president of PSR in 1994.

He is a member of the board and co-chairman of the Environment and Health Committee. He is the lead author of PSR’s report “Coal’s Assault on Human Health.” Dr. Lockwood also is the author of a new book on coal, “The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health,” published in September by MIT Press.

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu.



Vicky Cerino
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-5190