Michael Hendryx

The shocking danger of mountaintop removal – and why it must end

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About Michael Hendryx

Michael Hendryx is a pioneering research investigator focused on the impacts of uneven environmental exposures faced by socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. In 2006, Michael started a research program on public health disparities for people in Appalachia who live in proximity to coal mining, with a focus on mountaintop removal. This research has shown that people who live close to mountaintop removal are at increased risk for a wide set of health problems including respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, birth defects, cancer, and others. Michael has published over 130 peer reviewed research papers and has been an investigator on numerous grants and contracts. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Indiana University Bloomington’s School of Public Health.

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About This Talk

"What is the ethical obligation of the scientist who believes populations are in danger?" That was the question that professor Michael Hendryx asked himself when he began to uncover the detrimental health effects of mountain top removal in Appalachia. Mountaintop removal mining—the practice of blowing off the tops of mountains in order to access coal with lower sulfur content—holds fewer health risks for miners, but the health implications for people living in close proximity to MTR locations have long been unknown, and even disputed.

With their research, Michael and his team found evidence that the populations living near mountaintop removal sites saw significantly higher rates of birth defects, serious disease, and mortality. However, Michael's research met strong opposition from the coal industry and from local coal country governments, who didn't want his findings to be shared. Tune in to Michael's 2017 TEDMED Talk to find out how he's working to stand up for the Appalachians living near MTR sites and to establish the public health consequences of coal mining once and for all.

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