History of MSHA
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is responsible for administering the safety and health regulations set forth in the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. As an agency of the US Department of Labor, it is MSHA's job to minimize the health hazards associated with mine work while improving mines safety and health conditions.
The dangers associated with asbestos have been known and understood for many years. By the late 1970s government intervention and regulation of asbestos use put the country on notice of the health dangers associated with asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for centuries for its fire resistant properties, tensile strength, and light weight. Unfortunately this seemingly mystical fiber is also highly toxic to the body. When airborne asbestos fibers are swallowed or inhaled they become lodged in the outer lining of the stomach and lungs where the body's natural defenses cannot safely break them down. As a result, after decades of incubating in the mesothelial lining of the stomach and lungs, cancerous cell begin to form and spread throughout the body. This rare form of cancer, typically only caused by asbestos exposure, is commonly known as Mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma and MSHA
Since asbestos is mineral that is naturally found within the soil, it must be mined. The first known asbestos mine was located on the Greek island of Evvoia and discovered by the first century Greek geographer Strabo. Even then many recognized that the slaves used to mine the asbestos suffered from aliments of the lungs.
Despite the health risks and government regulation asbestos is still widely used and mined across the globe. Today, however, there are stringent guidelines in place to protect the health and safety of asbestos mine workers as well as all mine workers who may be using equipment that utilizes mesothelioma-linked materials like insulation to protect from the high heat generated by high-speed drills and the like. Since 1977 it has been the responsibility of MSHA to monitor, regulate, and enforce mine safety regulations associated with asbestos exposure.
Recent MSHA Mesothelioma News
In July of 2005 MSHA published a Notice of Proposed Rule-making that would lower the eight-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) from 2 fibers per cc to .1 fibers per cc, a 20-fold decrease in permissible mine exposure.