Pittsburgh's coal mining legacy is not all good

In decades past, most Pittsburgh families included one or more members who worked in one of the city's coal mines. Whether engaging in surface or deep mining, such work always posed great risk to employees. However, even if you didn't work in a coal mine but merely lived close to one, your own health may have been adversely affected by coal mine hazards.

Many Pennsylvania coal miners and their families, or people who lived near mines, didn't realize the negative effects the mines wreaked upon their health until years later. This is because many symptoms related to the diseases associated with coal mining work are not immediately apparent. Trying to live as high a quality a life as possible if you have a chronic illness can be tough. You may be able to alleviate some of your burdens if you know where to seek support.

Physical injury risks

As soon as a worker steps into a coal mine, there's a high risk for injury. Those who lived near or worked in mines often recall horrific stories of roof cave-ins, falling objects and equipment malfunctions that either took the lives of workers or resulted in serious injuries.

Microscopic health risks

Surprisingly, some of the most dangerous materials in coal mines can't be seen with the naked eye. Microscopic fibers known as asbestos can lead to serious lung cancers and other respiratory illnesses if you breathe them in or ingest them from the air. Sadly, many former coal miners or community members who lived near the mines are currently suffering from or have already succumbed to asbestos-related illnesses they contracted from the mines.   

Surface mining dust

Explosions that create dust at mountaintop mining sites were just as hazardous to the people of Pittsburgh as the deep mining dangers were. Some explosions led to contaminated drinking water when explosions damaged water tables underground. Drinking water that contains heavy metals or methane gas can be lethal. Explosions also sometimes sent shrapnel flying into people's homes.

Seeking support

Although many illnesses associated with asbestos or other coal mine hazards are incurable, there are support networks in place to help you or your loved one get appropriate medical treatment, which is often palliative care. There are also experienced support teams who can help address the legal aspects of a coal mining-related injury.

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