Frack sand mining in Wisconsin is kicking up a lot of crystalline silica dust for workers and surrounding local communities. And it has the potential to kill people. But…
jsonline: There is little conclusive information on possible negative health effects of a pollutant linked to Wisconsin's burgeoning sand mining industry, the Department of Natural Resources said in a new report Tuesday (9-2011). The DNR made no formal recommendations.
How is that even possible? Well, it is if your in Scott Walker's Wisconsin:
Crispin Pierce, an associate professor of environmental public health at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, (described) the report as "conservative in a way that is in opposition to good public health policies. "We know that this material, in higher concentrations in the workplace, causes silicosis (which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal)," he said. "So to say there is little known if we are exposed in a different context like a sand mine is naive in my estimation," Pierce said.
It’s not naïve, but intentional. Big business isn't interested in the human toll, as demonstrated below:
Industry groups rejected calls for further regulation in comments included in the report. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce said the DNR lacks authority to regulate crystalline silica as a hazardous air pollutant. The American Chemistry Council said there is no evidence for determining whether crystalline silica in the air causes silicosis or other silica-related diseases.
jsonline: Foundry industry executives say they could be forced out of business if the federal government adopts tougher regulations aimed at reducing worker exposure to crystalline silica dust.
Actually, there is evidence . The choice being offered is a frightening one; we know it will kill people, but hey, they’ve got a business to run and bigger profits to make.
James Schultz, a workplace safety consultant from Milwaukee and former foundry worker said "Honestly, a lot of times in the workplace you are told to man up and don't worry about it. A lot of workers may suspect something is wrong, because they're having a hard time breathing, and they don't realize it's the beginning stages of a terminal lung disease."
But it’s the bottom line, and a cut in profits:
The proposed OSHA requirements would result in annual costs equivalent to about 10% of the foundry industry's revenue, the trade association says.
It’s not about how much pain, suffering and death is tolerable:
The seriousness of the health hazards associated with silica exposure is demonstrated by the fatalities and disabling illnesses … Crystalline silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal.
The respirable silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. There is no cure for silicosis. Since silicosis affects lung function, it makes one more susceptible to lung infections like tuberculosis.