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Airborne Dust from Mountaintop Mining Linked to Lung Cancer in Nearby Communities

Researchers from West Virginia University's Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center have recently published findings that reveal a causal link between mountaintop mining operations and lung cancer rates in nearby residential neighborhoods.

While it has long been speculated that abnormally high rates of lung cancer in mountaintop mining communities are attributable to poor air quality, there is now hard scientific evidence linking high dust rates to lung cancer. The recent study, published in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology, explains that chronic inhalation of dust particles generated from the explosions and machinery used in mountaintop mining operations promotes and accelerates the growth of cancerous tumors in local populations.

"This study is the first to link the environmental conditions directly to biological health impacts. It shows that dust collected from mountaintop removal communities promotes lung cancer," -- Michael Hendryx, Former director of the West Virginia Rural Health Research Center.

The study consisted of exposing cultured lung cells to coal dust collected from residential neighborhoods in Edwight, West Virginia, located within 1 mile of an active mountaintop mine. Once exposed, the cells underwent a series of transformations that are strongly correlated with the proliferation and progression of lung cancer. Additionally, researchers discovered that dust generated from mountaintop operations promotes the growth of tumors in the lungs, a bellwether indicator of imminent cancer growth.

After evaluating all available information, scientists concluded that "prudent adoption of prevention strategies and implementation of [mountaintop mining dust] exposure control[s]" are imperative to protecting Appalachian citizens.

The mining industry is essential to our economy here in Appalachia and brings thousands of jobs to our region. The importance of our symbiotic relationship with coal companies cannot be overstated. However, only when our citizens are afforded basic protections from the hazards inherent in mining can we continue to mutually benefit from this relationship.

Excessive exposure to airborne coal mine dust because of another party's negligence may be grounds for legal action. If you or someone you know is a resident of a mountaintop mining community and has been diagnosed with lung cancer or progressive massive fibrosis, you should take immediate action and work toward receiving compensation for your injuries.

At Hartley & O'Brien, PLLC, our personal injury attorneys provide aggressive representation and excellent legal advice for clients who have suffered from the debilitating effects of lung cancer and PMF. With more than 30 years of legal experience and a heavy focus on mine related toxic exposure cases, our legal team fights for positive results in personal injury cases. Call today for a free consultation and tell us your story. Our family of personal injury attorneys have got your back in both our Wheeling and Charleston, West Virginia offices.

The Wagner Building, 2001 Main Street, Suite 600, Wheeling, WV 26003
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