Charleston Gazette -Over the past five years, WVU researcher Michael Hendryx and various co-authors have published peer-reviewed studies examining possible links between mountaintop removal and various illnesses. The work has linked health and coal-mining data to show, among other things, that residents near mining face a greater risk of cancer, birth defects and premature deaths. Environmental groups have not funded Hendryx, but those groups have seized on his findings to argue that mountaintop removal isn't just an issue about mining's effects on salamanders, mayflies or isolated mountain streams.