A Deadly By-Product of the Fossil Fuel Industry

By now, efforts to “go green” have become something of a cultural phenomenon. People are finally buying into renewable lifestyles and companies have learned creative ways to profit from this. What we must remember though, is that fossil fuel companies are still profiting from the depletion of our ozone layer. And the cost we are bearing may be more than we had ever known.

Much has been made of the effect of global warming on the health of the planet. Little however, has been made of the effect of fossil fuel processing on human health. In South Africa and Australia, where atmospheric ozone is highly depleted, skin cancer rates are the highest in the world due to unhealthy ultraviolet sunlight. It is not however, simply and external problem. Workers in the fossil fuel industry encounter some of the most hazardous substances on the planet, and among these is asbestos.

Asbestos was banned in the late 1970’s by the Consumer Product Safety Commission but still remains in the infrastructure of nearly all polluting industries, particularly in the processing of fossil fuels. Older asbestos fixtures deteriorate with damage or age like any compound, but these are far more hazardous. Unstable asbestos fixtures such as pipe-coverings or boiler insulation compounds, release asbestos into the air and endanger all those in the vicinity. [more]

Inhaled fibers are the only known cause of the deadly asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. In recent years, former oil refinery workers were among the highest incidence of mesothelioma patients. To prevent these exposures and senseless deaths, we must move out of our current energy paradigm and into a more efficient and sustainable future.

- New comprehension of the crisis we face and the spread of awareness is the best thing we can do.
- Individuals should continue to implore lawmakers to approve significant funding for alternative and cleaner energy production.
- On a personal level, each person should lessen a national demand for these dirty energies by continuing the basic tenets of diminishing our personal carbon footprint.

Over the Summer of 2008, fuel prices never reached the $5/gallon that they were supposed to because the country experienced record lows in car travel. Individual actions can and will make a difference going forward. The cost now is not only the planet for our children, but also the lives of industrial workers.

For more information, visit MAACenter.org

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