Schmidt Wrote: I can empathize with coal miners and the likelihood of contracting black lung disease. My father was a copper miner in Butte, Montana, and many miners suffered from silicosis, another lung disease caused by inhaling fine dust particles during the drilling of the rock as much as a mile underneath the city. He was a union activist that pushed for better and safer working conditions for the underground miners, and much of his focus was on proper ventilation. He was always cautioning the younger miners to not breathe so deeply with mouth open when it got dusty...to breathe from the nose.
The underground mines have since closed, but many senior miners lived out their last days suffering from silicosis. I would assume that the same can be said for coal miners across the country.
However, on the topic of nuclear energy, the mining of uranium has also left it's mark on the health of miners, particularly the Navajo.
Environmental Health Perspectives: Once Upon a Mine: The Legacy of Uranium on the Navajo Nation
A couple of paragraphs from the linked article...
"Decades of uranium mining have dotted the landscape across the Navajo Nation with piles of contaminated mine waste. The EPA has mapped 521 abandoned uranium mines on the reservation, ranging from small holes dug by a single prospector into the side of a mesa to large commercial mining operations. The Navajo people did not have a word for “radioactivity” when mining outfits looking for vanadium and uranium began moving onto their land in the 1940s, and they did not understand that radiation could be dangerous. They were not told that the men who worked in the mines were breathing carcinogenic radon gas and showering in radioactive water, nor that the women washing their husbands’ work clothes could spread radionuclides to the rest of the family’s laundry.
"In just over a decade, Navajo miners were being diagnosed with lung cancer, a relatively rare disease in this largely nonsmoking population. Beginning in 1950, workers with the U.S. Public Health Service led by Duncan Holaday and Victor Archer began following uranium miners in the Southwest, both Navajo and white, to measure their exposures and assess their specific cancer risks. To get access to the workers, the researchers had to strike a Faustian bargain with the mining companies: They could not inform the miners of the potential health hazards of their work. Seeing it as the only way to convince government regulators to improve safety in the mines, the researchers accepted. By 1965, the investigators reported an association between cumulative exposure to uranium and lung cancer among white miners and had definitively identified the cause as radiation exposure."
Mining is an occupational hazard...whether it is coal mining, hard rock copper mining or uranium mining.