Coal combustion is the primary anthropogenic source of atmospheric iodine, which has important environmental and health effects. The iodine distribution in Chinese coals and the atmospheric iodine emission factors of coal-fired boilers are studied to estimate the iodine atmospheric flux from coal combustion in China from 1995 to 2009. The national average iodine content weighted by coal yield fluctuated from 2.61 mg kg-1 in 1995 to 2.09 mg kg-1 in 2009, recording an annual decline of 1.42 %. By establishing a monitoring program, iodine distribution in coal by-products after the coal is consumed in combustors is measured, and atmospheric iodine emission factors by sectors are calculated. Based on the coal consumption by sectors, the annual atmospheric iodine emission from coal combustion in China increased at an annual rate of 4.3 % from 3031.1 tons in 1995 to 4872.6 tons in 2009. Anthropogenic atmospheric iodine emission is significantly underestimated, and its environmental and health effects must be given more attention.