On World Asthma Day on Tuesday, organizations and Iowans gathered in Muscatine to talk about the health effects of air pollution, and to plead with MidAmerican Energy to close its coal-burning power plants by 2030, as many coal plants around the country have promised to do, according to a news release.

“The Muscatine community has carried enough of the burden of air pollution from coal-fired power plants,” said Katie Rock, Iowa Campaign representative for Beyond Coal, Sierra Club. “With new incentives from Congress, the time is now to transition to a cleaner energy future.”

The American Lung Association’s new “State of the Air” 2023 report highlights how year-round exposure to particle pollution, from sources such as coal plants, is linked to a wide array of serious health effects at every stage of life, from conception through old age. These health impacts include:

  • Reduced lung development and impaired lung function in children 
  • Higher likelihood of children developing asthma
  • Increased risk from existing cardiovascular and respiratory disease in adults, including a worsening of heart disease, atherosclerosis and COPD
  • Higher likelihood of adults getting lung cancer and of dying from it.

The State of the Air report also includes asthma totals in several counties that have MidAmerican coal plants, including:

  • Muscatine County: 598 pediatric asthma cases and 2,968 adult asthma cases out of a population of 42,688
  • Pottawattamie County: 1258 pediatric cases and 6,552 adult cases out of a population of 93,304
  • Scott County: 2,361 pediatric cases and 12,281 adult cases out of a population of 174,170
  • Woodbury County: 1,592 pediatric cases and 7,235 adult cases out of a population of 105,607

Iowans gathered near a coal plant in Muscatine to call for an end to MidAmerican’s pollution that is endangering the lives of Iowans. Speakers at the event included Karin Stein of Moms Clean Air Force; Dr. Robert Blount, M.D., from the University of Iowa; Katie Rock with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Iowa; and Alyson Glynn, whose health has been impacted by asthma in a coal community.

“Coal-fired power plants are an infamous source of toxic pollution,” said Karin Stein,of Moms Clean Air Force. “They spew mercury and 80 other dangerous air pollutants, from arsenic to acid gases, to the carbon dioxide that is warming our planet. A disproportionate number of people of color in the United States live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. That is true in Muscatine, as well as in some other places in Iowa where MidAmerican coal plants operate. Statistics aren’t statistics. Statistics are people’s lives. Let’s never forget that.”

About Hosts: 

Moms Clean Air Force: Our mission is to protect children from air pollution and climate change. We envision a safe, stable, and equitable future where all children breathe clean air. We are a community of over one million moms and dads united against air pollution – including the urgent crisis of our changing climate – to protect our children’s health. We fight for Justice in Every Breath, recognizing the importance of equitable solutions in addressing air pollution and climate change. For more information, visit here or follow on Twitter @CleanAirMoms, Instagram @cleanairmoms, or Facebook.

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit here.

The Clean Up MidAm campaign is a coalition of organizations, including the Iowa Environmental Council, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Clean Energy Districts of Iowa, Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, the Sierra Club, Moms Clean Air Force, and countless Iowans. Learn more here.