andrew schneider investigates

March 9, 2008

New asbestos exposure limits for miners

It has been a long time coming. You can only guess how many thousands of miners have been crippled or killed because politicians bowed to industry instead of allowing public health experts to protect the miners from the asbestos in the talc, taconite and vermiculite that they pulled from the earth.

Tremolite asbestos fiber

Beginning on April 29, it will be unlawful for employers in the mining industry to expose workers to asbestos concentrations higher than 0.1 fiber (per cubic meter of air) over an 8-hour shift, wrote Celeste Monforton on the blog “The Pump Handle,” which is called a “water cooler for the public health crowd.”

She reports that on Feb. 29, the Mine Safety and Health Administration published a new exposure limit for asbestos to replace a 2.0 fiber limit which has been on the books since 1978 when the agency was created.

Monforton, who ran the safety and health operation at MSHA before the Democrats were tossed out, knows first hand about the inequities in the mine agency and that, even with the new asbestos limit, there is still a double standard.

“There is still a vast difference between OSHA’s asbestos standard, and the one issued by MSHA.,” reported the occupational health specialist. “Don’t let anyone in the Administration get away with suggestions that mine workers now have a federal workplace health standard on asbestos that is equivalent to every other worker in the country. It is not,”


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