An EPA consultant's data says West Virginia ranks first in the nation per capita in deaths linked to air pollution from coal-fired power plants.

The report by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based ABT Associates found that power plant emissions shorten nearly 24,000 lives a year nationwide, including 2,800 from lung cancer.

The research group says the figures accurately reflect health problems that are rarely linked to emissions.

The report says that 33.1 of every 100,000 adult West Virginians are at risk of dying prematurely from exposure to pollutants from power plants. Pennsylvania also topped the list.

Wheeling ranked first in the national listing of cities per capita with 38.2 deaths per 100,000 people. Charleston was fourth with 35.6.

Industry groups are attacking the report, saying emissions have been declining for decades and that other sources of airborne pollutants are more dangerous, saying the study was commissioned by environmental advocacy groups.

Per capita deaths by state (per 100,000 adults):

1. West Virginia - 33.1

2. Kentucky- 28.2

3. Tennessee - 25.1

4. Ohio - 24.6

5. Pennsylvania - 23.3/ (tie) Indiana - 23.0

Per capita deaths by city (per 100,000 adults):

1. Wheeling, W.Va. - 38.2

2. Cumberland, Md. - 36.0

3. Steubenville, Ohio - 35.9

4. Charleston, W.Va. - 35.6

5. Pittsburgh - 35.6