Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Sociology (Applied), PhD

Committee Chair

Best, Latrica E.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Roelfs, David

Committee Member

Roelfs, David

Committee Member

Heberle, Lauren

Committee Member

Schroeder, Ryan

Committee Member

Zierold, Kristina

Author's Keywords

Appalachia; coal; mining; mortality; demography; environment


Over the last hundred years, the Appalachian region has been dominated by the coal industry. It has also been and currently is one of the unhealthiest regions in the United States. Recent scholarship has examined the relationship between coal mining and health and mortality rates in the Appalachian region. The first study incorporates air quality and pollution data to examine if coal mining counties have higher levels of pollution and if this pollution contributes to mortality disadvantage. In the second study, I construct a population-based coal-exposure measure to better evaluate the relationship between coal mining and health I find that coal mining is a poor predictor of air quality and air pollution. However, there appears to be strong links between air pollution and particulate matter pollution. In the second study, I find that the coal-exposure measure for some types of mortality (all-cause, all-cancer, lung cancer, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease) is more predictive than dichotomous county-level coal mining measures, particularly in explaining cross-county differences in mortality rates. However, I find limited support for the effectiveness of coal-exposure measures when examining links between coal mining and mortality rates.