- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Federal officials plan a $1 million study about whether residents near Central Appalachia surface coal mines face greater health risks.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement announced Wednesday that it will fund a $1 million National Academy of Sciences study.

The Academy will pick 12 subject matter experts to examine research and hold four town-hall meetings.

Meeting specifics haven’t been determined.

A news release says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency are conducting similar studies.

Studies have linked living near mountaintop removal mines to a greater risk of cancer, birth defects and premature death. Mountaintop removal is a type of a surface mining where mountaintops are blown apart with explosives.

West Virginia state officials requested the federal study in 2015.

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