The downside to coal is that it is dirty.Cleaning has to be done a lot more. I wear a dust mask when transporting the nut coal inside. I also wear a mask when I handle the ash although I believe that ash is less harmful than the pre- burnt nut coal ( see Oxford University study from pre politicized 1990's link below).. http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/93/2/390.long
First off let me welcome you to the forum. You can find more information here about the non-politicized use of coal to heat your home than anywhere else.
I read the study you referenced and it was documenting the effects of controlled fly ash on power plant workers, construction workers, and people who live near an un-regulated coal fired power plant. That study is almost 25 years old. In the power generation coal usage environment and considering the progress the tree huggers have made it was a life time ago. Your reference to pre burned nut coal also applies to power plants. It's refered to as pre combustion process where the carbon is removed from the coal and the hydrogen and CO2 is removed. This is done to capture the CO2 and sequester it in an attempt to lower green house gas emissions from coal fired power plants using bituminous or sub bit coal.
You are correct in that in Pennsylvania coal ash from domestic use in smaller towns is used to treat the roads in the winter time. It makes an excellent non-skid and traction control agent. Many towns in my area have regular ash pickup days. You put your open tub or ash container at the curb and every other day the borough workers come by and dump it in a dump truck. A lot of people just bag it and put it in their regular trash. Ash from power plants is a completely different story. Most power plants use bituminous coal which is a completely different animal from anthracite coal.
Use of any solid fuel to heat your home is going to create dust. It's the nature of the beast. If you want to spend mega bucks to heat your home and have a dust free fuel use electricity. That is the only heating medium that I am aware of that will put no fumes, no dust, and no particulates in your air. If you cover your ash pan and use a running shop vac with a fine particulate bag and then dump your ash outside carefully the ash in your home will be minimal. Anyway you've been running Godin's for awhile now so you probably already know all this.
Anyway again welcome to the forum and please fill out your profile. Since FF is unavailable I'll use his line. Don't worry we ain't gonna steal ya.
New Beginning Church