Cochrane & Associates, LLC

Coal Ash and Protecting Communities and the Environment from Potential Exposure Hazards

Source: Cochrane & Associates, LLC

Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP®) credential-holders practice with a broad understanding of environmental science as well as specialized knowledge in solid and hazardous waste, air quality, water quality, or environmental science management & policy.

Lansing, MI, August 5th, 2019 -- Earlier this year a report published by the Environmental Integrity Project, with help from Earthjustice, examined monitoring data from U.S. coal-fired power plants to assess potential groundwater pollution from coal ash. In the report, the organizations found that 91% of the 265 power plants with monitoring data of nearby groundwater found contamination from one or more pollutants found in coal ash, including arsenic, lithium and other pollutants.


Coal Ash, also known as coal combustion residuals (CCRs), are created when coal is burned by power plants to produce electricity. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coal ash is one of the largest types of industrial waste generated in the country and in 2014, coal-fired electric utilities generated approximately 130 million tons of it.


“Coal ash by-products may include fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag, and flue desulfurization materials,” said Jim Powell, QEP®, BCEEM and Director, Board for Global EHS Credentialing®. “It can be recycled into products like concrete or wallboard, but much of it is disposed of in surface impoundments or in landfills. Some power plants may discharge it into a nearby waterway under the plant's water discharge permit. Exposure to coal ash can be a threat to humans, animals, and the environment because without proper management, contaminants such as mercury, cadmium, and arsenic found in coal ash can pollute waterways, groundwater, drinking water, and the air.”


Working to identify and prevent these exposure hazards are Qualified Environmental Professionals (QEPs). Those who have earned the QEP® credential are part of an elite group of experts that have demonstrated a broad understanding of environmental science, specialized knowledge in a specific environmental discipline, along with a commitment to high standards of practice and ethics. QEPs are available to investigate, manage, and mitigate issues associated with coal ash and many other known environmental hazards.


About the Board for Global EHS Credentialing® (BGC®) and Its Credentials and Designations

Founded in 1960, the Board for Global EHS Credentialing’s mission is to be the leader in offering credentials that elevate the technical and ethical standards for professionals practicing the science of protecting, managing, and enhancing the health and safety of people and the environment. The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) and the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice® (IPEP®) are credentialing divisions of the BGC, offering the Certified Industrial Hygienist® (CIH®) credential, Qualified Environmental Professional® (QEP®) credential, and the Environmental Professional In-Training® (EPI®) designation. 


Currently, more than 7,600 people around the world hold the CIH credential, QEP credential, or EPI designation. To locate a CIH to perform industrial hygiene services, please email a request to To learn more about a BGC credential or designation, please visit, email or call (517) 321-2638.