Unfortunately, mining is an occupation that poses serious dangers to workers, including the risk of asbestos cancer. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been linked in recent decades to serious illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Sadly, the dangers of working in asbestos mines were not immediately realized. It has been estimated that over the last 100 years, more than 30 million tons of asbestos was mined and used in the U.S. alone. Top-level managers in the asbestos mining industry were aware of the dangers that asbestos posed to miners long before the industry was forced to act to protect their workers.
Before the OSHA and MSHA Asbestos Regulations
As early as the 1920s, scientists were talking about the dangers of asbestos. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that safety regulations concerning the mining and uses of asbestos began to be implemented. Both OSHA and MSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Mine Safety and Health Administration) now have regulations designed to protect miners from the dangers of asbestos. There are currently some 14,000 active mines in the U.S. Before the 1980s, U.S. mines may have been the source of toxic levels of exposure to asbestos cancer. The mining of asbestos itself was especially dangerous, but miners in other kinds of mines have also been at risk of asbestos cancer because of the widespread use of asbestos in mining machinery.
Asbestos Fibers in the Air
The danger lies in the nature of asbestos. When this fibrous mineral is mined, manipulated, disturbed, or deteriorating, its fibers are released into the air, where they can float for hours or days. The fibers of asbestos are invisible to the naked eye and may only be noticed when there is a significant cloud of asbestos dust. Because of this, many of those that have been exposed to asbestos mines are unaware of the damage it has done until mesothelioma cancer has reached an advanced stage.
Mesothelioma Cancer is Fatal
Mesothelioma cancer, a deadly and incurable cancer, begins when asbestos fibers are inhaled. Many miners inhaled asbestos fibers on a regular basis as part of their workday in asbestos mines or through the use of mining machinery. The fibers lodged themselves in the miners’ lungs or other internal organs, and the toxic fibers initiated the disease process that results in mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium, a membrane that lines the inside of the chest).
Decades After the Asbestos Exposure
The “incubation” time for mesothelioma is decades. The symptoms don’t show up until about 10 to 50 years after the initial contact with the substance due to asbestos mining or other means of exposure.
Since the 1970s, thousands of new cases of mesothelioma cancer have been documented in the U.S., among miners and employees in other industries with high levels of asbestos exposure. Many of the miners who now have mesothelioma cancer began their work in the 1940s, for example. The men were directly exposed to the asbestos as they brought it out of the mine and processed it, and the women who were married to these workers, or their children, were exposed to the asbestos fibers that frequently came home with the miners on their clothing, shoes, and hair. The tragic result for many of these miners and their family members is the onset of mesothelioma cancer or lung cancer. Many of these miners were unknowingly put at risk for these cancers and often seek the legal counsel of an attorney or lawyer along with mesothelioma treatment options.
Learn More about Mesothelioma Cancer
To learn more about the mesothelioma resources available to you, contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers online today. The miners who have brought so much to our economy should not be spending the latter years of their lives struggling with asbestos cancer diseases caused by asbestos mining.