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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

A Scourge for Coal Miners Stages a Brutal Comeback

By Ken Ward Jr - Yale Environment 360, November 11, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

In August, when former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited West Virginia to campaign for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Shelley Moore Capito, the Democrat in the race was quick to remind voters what Romney had said a decade earlier about the coal industry.

“I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant — that plant kills people,” Romney had said in 2003, standing outside a Massachusetts coal-fired power plant that was facing new environmental controls. The Democratic candidate’s campaign jumped on this, criticizing Capito for aligning herself with “someone who believes coal ‘kills people’” — a deeply unpopular sentiment in a state where coal has long been king.

The irony, of course, is that coal does kill people, most notably the workers who toil to mine it, and whose union — the United Mine Workers — would eventually endorse the Democrat in the West Virginia Senate contest.

Politicians and media pundits often conveniently forget that fact when they’re chattering away about the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules on coal-fired power plants or the latest study showing climate change’s impact on sea level rise.

Major mining disasters get a lot attention, especially if they involve heroic rescue efforts, with worried families gathered at a local church and quick-hit stories about long lists of safety violations and inadequate enforcement.

But most coal miners die alone, one at a time, either in roof falls or equipment accidents or — incredibly in this day and age — from black lung, a deadly but preventable disease that most Americans probably think is a thing of the past. Coal-mining disasters get historic markers. Black lung deaths just get headstones.

Just weeks after Romney’s Capito campaign appearance, yet another in a long line of studies showed conclusively that not only is black lung back, but that the worst form of the disease now affects a larger share of Appalachian coal miners than at any time since the early 1970s, shortly after a federal law meant to end the disease was passed.

Workers at Fracked Wells Exposed to Benzene, CDC Warns Amid Mounting Evidence of Shale Jobs' Dangers

By Sharon Kelly - DeSmog Blog, September 18, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

For years, the oil and gas industry has worked to convince Americans that the rush to drill shale wells across the country will not only provide large corporations with lavish profits, but will also create enormous numbers of attractive and high-paid jobs, transforming the economies of small towns and cities that greenlight drilling.

The industry's numbers are often picked up by policy-makers and politicians who back drilling, in part because talk of job growth is an especially alluring idea in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.

But numerous independent studies have conclude that the industry vastly overstated the number of jobs that fracking has created, and that the economic benefits have been overblown.

A growing body of research suggests that not only does the industry create fewer jobs than promised, the jobs that are created come with serious dangers for the workers who take them.

Research made public late last month suggests that some of those jobs may be even more hazardous to workers than previously believed, calling into question the true benefits of the boom.

Black Lung Among Coal Miners At Highest Level In 40 Years

By Kate Valentine - TruthOut, September 16, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Rates of a deadly form of black lung are the highest they’ve been in 40 years among Appalachian coal miners, according to federal experts.

Scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health published a letter Monday in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine that stated that levels of progressive massive fibrosis (PMF) have risen to levels not seen since the early 1970s among coal miners in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. The high numbers come just 15 years after the “debilitating and entirely preventable respiratory disease” was “virtually eradicated,” the scientists note.

PMF is caused only by breathing in too much coal mine dust, the letter said, so the increase in rates “can only be the result of overexposures and/or increased toxicity stemming from changes in dust composition.” The letter also notes that 2014 marks the 45th anniversary of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, which aimed to curb incidence of black lung among coal workers by implementing dust standards. Current rates of PMF prove that exposure to coal dust continues to be a major health hazard for coal miners, however.

“Each of these cases is a tragedy and represents a failure among all those responsible for preventing this severe disease,” the letter reads.

David Blackley, one of the letter’s authors who works at the NIOSH office in Morgantown, West Virginia, told the Charleston Daily Mail that he was “shocked” when he looked at the black lung data.

Dangers Inherent In Fracking Jobs

By Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment - Popular Resistance, July 24, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Yesterday many of Southern Illinois’s elected officials, and representatives of the fossil fuel industry, held a one-hour press conference to complain about the fact that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has still not completed the rule-making process in order for fracking to begin in Illinois. Fracking is a controversial process used to drill for oil & gas. Millions of gallons of water, mixed with toxic chemicals and sand, are injected into mile-long horizontal wells at high pressure to fracture rock layers and release oil and gas.

It is important that the public is aware of the dangers inherent in fracking jobs. Within one year in Texas 65 oil & gas workers died, 79 lost limbs, 82 were crushed, 92 suffered burns & 675 broke bones.  The fatality rate among oil and gas workers is nearly eight times higher than the all-average rate of 3.2 deaths for every 100,000 workers across all industries.

A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study revealed that worker exposure to crystalline silica—or “frac sand” —exceeded “relevant occupational health criteria” at all eleven tested sites, and the magnitude of some exposures exceeded their limits by a factor of 10 or more. “Personal respiratory protection alone is not sufficient to adequately protect against workplace exposures.” Inhalation of crystalline silica can cause incurable silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney disease and autoimmune diseases.

Representative Brandon Phelps stated at the press conference that North Dakota should be a model for Southern Illinois. A report by the AFL-CIO found that the fracking boom has made North Dakota the most dangerous state for U.S. workers—with a fatality rate five times higher than the national average—and that North Dakota’s fatality rate has doubled since 2007. The AFL-CIO called North Dakota “an exceptionally dangerous and deadly place to work.”

Statistics provided by THE COMPENDIUM OF SCIENTIFIC, MEDICAL, AND MEDIA FINDINGS DEMONSTRATING RISKS AND HARMS OF FRACKING (UNCONVENTIONAL GAS AND OIL EXTRACTION)

http://concernedhealthny.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CHPNY-Fracking-Compendium.pdf

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