A recent report released some troubling numbers for miners in the Iron Range. Out of 69,000 people who worked in the mining industry between 1930 and 1982, a total of 101 have since been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
State Department of Health researchers have been following this group of miners for several years in an effort to monitor the long-term health risks of their exposure to asbestos and taconite. What they have found is that an overwhelming number of people who were employed in the mining industry are now paying the price for outdated mining practices.
Of course we know more about asbestos exposure and protection now than we did 50 years ago, but the risks of asbestos have long been known by health experts, product manufacturers and employers in dustries that work with asbestos.
Unfortunately, many people did not take these threats seriously back then; sadly, some parties still fail to appreciate the toxicity of asbestos today. What this means for the people who have been exposed as a result of that neglect is that their health and life could be in danger.
As the case of the Iron Range miners can show us, the true devastation of asbestos exposure may not be evident for decades after exposure. By then, huge populations of people may learn that they have a disease that can ultimately be fatal.
Single cases of mesothelioma are certainly devastating. Unfortunately, too many people associate single cases with rarity and assume that asbestos-related illnesses are not something to be concerned about. But when we see groups of people being diagnosed with the same deadly illness after being exposed to asbestos, it should send a powerful message that mesothelioma is something that affects many more people than we may realize.
Changing workplace policies, environmental standards and product regulations can better protect people from asbestos exposure now and in the future. However, none of this can help the people in North Carolina and elsewhere who have already suffered the devastating consequences of toxic exposure. For these victims and their families, legal accountability and compensation can be available to help them cope with an illness or loss suffered as a result of asbestos exposure.
Source: Herald Review, “21 more cases of mesothelioma in miners’ group,” Feb. 19, 2015