Underreported: Linking Cancer to the Permian Extinction

For decades women in Xuan Wei, a county in southern China, have suffered from an astronomically high rate of lung cancer and the reason why has remained largely a mystery. Now, researchers think they have solved the case: the coal that is burned in Chinese kitchens is to blame, but this is not just any coal. Over 200 million years ago a particularly toxic kind of coal formed right around the time of the great Permian Extinction and it seems that the toxic chemicals from that event are still killing to this day. We’ll speak with Bob Finkelman, a geologist at the University of Texas at Dallas for today’s first Underreported segment.