GeoThermal CANCERS: Health and environmental effects document on geothermal energy: 1981 (Technical Report) | OSTI.GOV


Several of the important health and environmental risks associated with a reference geothermal industry that produces 21,000 MW/sub e/ for 30 y (equivalent to 20 x 10/sup 18/ J) are assessed. The analyses of health effects focus on the risks associated with exposure to hydrogen sulfide, particulate sulfate, benzene, mercury, and radon in air and arsenic in water. Results indicate that emissions of hydrogen sulfide are likely to cause odor-related problems in geothermal resources areas, assuming that no pollution controls are employed. For individuals living within an 80 km radius of the geothermal resources, chronic exposure to particulate sulfate could result in between 0 to 95 premature deaths per 10/sup 18/ J of electricity generated. The mean population risk of leukemia from the inhalation of benzene was calculated to be 3 x 10/sup -2/ cases per 10/sup 18/ J. Exposure to elemental mercury in the atmosphere could produce between 0 and 8.2 cases of tremors per 10/sup 18/ J of electricity. Inhalation of radon and its short-lived daughters poses a mean population risk of 4.2 x 10/sup -1/ lung cancers per 10/sup 18/ J. Analysis of skin cancer risk from the ingestion of surface water contaminated with geothermally derived arsenic more »