The document provides a broad view of three major coal conversion technologies: coal liquefaction, surface, and in situ coal gasification for use as background material for participants in the Interagency Workshop on the Health and Environmental Effects of Coal Gasification and Liquefaction Technologies. Information is included on coal technologies including specific process options considered likely candidates for commercialization. Detailed information is presented on process steps and associated waste streams and potential constituents. Process description and diagrams for selected technology processes are also provided. Precautionary considerations and the state of knowledge are given for all waste streams including water effluents, air emissions, and solid wastes. This information provides a sound basis for source characterization. Descriptions of classes of potential pollutants associated with waste streams include seven categories of pollutants possibly associated with coal conversion technologies: air, water, solids, organics, trace elements, transients, and products and by-products. A discussion of potential health and environmental problems of the technologies provides strawman set of potential problems. These problems were a starting point from which the workshop panelist could identify and establish research priorities for the entire energy cycle.