Miners Could Still be Exposed to Asbestos From Contaminated Mines

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Mesothelioma & Asbestos Published on May 18, 2022

empty coal mineWorkers in many industries may still be at risk for exposure to asbestos, the fibrous mineral that can cause illnesses like mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. One of those industries where workers may still be at risk is mining.

While there are no longer any asbestos mines in the U.S., other mines may still be contaminated with asbestos. Data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration says approximately 15 percent of coal mines are contaminated with asbestos.

Below, we discuss the risks of asbestos exposure for miners. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, give us a call to schedule a free legal consultation. Our experienced Maryland mesothelioma attorneys have secured millions on behalf of asbestos victims and may be able to help you.

How Miners Could Still Encounter Asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral that must be mined from the ground. Even though there are no more asbestos mines, other types of mines could be contaminated with asbestos. For example, minerals like talc and vermiculite could be contaminated with asbestos.

Coal miners may also encounter asbestos. In 2005, it was estimated that miners were exposed to asbestos at a rate of two fibers per cubic centimeter. Any exposure of more than 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter is a dangerous exposure, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Coal mines in multiple states have been found to expose miners to asbestos dust. This includes:

  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Ohio
  • Arizona
  • Minnesota
  • Illinois
  • Arkansas

It is also important to note some of the equipment coal miners use could contain asbestos. This equipment may include:

  • Clutches
  • Chemical pipes
  • Brake linings
  • Switches
  • Valves
  • Pumps
  • Motor controls
  • Electrical components
  • Continuous mining machines
  • Shuttle cars
  • Pumps
  • Hoist machines
  • Winches
  • Wastewater removal piping

Types of Coal Mining and the Risks

There are two main kinds of coal mining: open-pit mining and underground mining:

  • Open-pit mining – Open-pit mining involves extracting coal without sending workers underground. Large patches of land are temporarily removed to allow workers to access coal. While this type of mining may be less risky, extracting coal could still cause asbestos fibers to get into the air and be breathed in. However, open-pit mining could also cause particles to be swept away, decreasing the risk of workers breathing these fibers in.
  • Underground mining – This involves workers going underground in confined spaces (long, narrow tunnels) to mine asbestos. The problem when it comes to asbestos exposure is asbestos fibers have nowhere to go. That means they are much more likely to be breathed in by the miners.

Other Asbestos Exposure Risks for Miners

Refining coal can be just as dangerous as mining it. Coal must be sanded, crushed or filed down and this process releases coal dust into the air. If the coal was contaminated with asbestos, asbestos fibers will be released into the air.

Even if a miner does not breathe in asbestos fibers, they could come to rest on his or her clothes. When workers go home and take off their work clothes, asbestos fibers could be released into the air and be breathed in by the worker or his or her family members.

Symptoms Miners May Experience

One of the biggest problems with diagnosing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases is the symptoms look like symptoms of various illnesses. That is why asbestos diseases are often not diagnosed until the later stages, when treatment options are limited.

However, there are some symptoms that are often seen in people who were exposed to asbestos. This includes:

  • Dry coughing
  • Crackling sounds when you breathe air into your lungs
  • Clubbing of the fingers and toes

If you or your loved one is suffering from these symptoms and you worked in a high-risk occupation or lived in a high-risk area for asbestos exposure, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Contact an Experienced Attorney to Discuss a Legal Claim

For multiple decades, the licensed attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl have been representing injury victims and securing compensation for their damages. There are no upfront fees or costs with our services. That means there is no financial risk in contacting us and having us represent your claim.

Give us a call today. We are here to help during this difficult time. We can manage the legal process on your behalf, fighting for your best interests.

Free Consultation. Contact Us Today: 410-401-9979.