While the effects of global climate changed have been covered extensively in recent years by the national media, there are still a myriad of supplementary consequences to the global warming crisis that are relatively unknown. Many of these consequences are those which not only affect the health of the earth but also the health of its people. Upon further examination we will see that through adjustments to our energy policies and reliance upon fossil fuels we can save the earth for our children, as well as lives today.
While politicians and pundits will argue over the validity of global climate change, it is hard to argue that the depletion of the ozone layer in certain parts of the world is related to the burning and processing of fossil fuels. While the ozone certainly threatens the future sustainability of our planet (skin cancer rates in Australia and South Africa, two areas of the earth with the most depleted levels of atmospheric ozone, are exceptionally high), the fossil fuel industry has many dirty practices, including the exposure to toxins among its workers.
Among the more common hazards workers in the fossil fuel industry encounter is asbestos. Asbestos was banned in the late 1970's by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, but still exists in nearly all industry across the world. Asbestos was used as an insulator and a fire retardant in piping, boilers, and other fixtures. Needless today, the fossil fuel industry relied heavily upon this infrastructure and asbestos use was abundant. As these products age or become damaged the asbestos can easily be released into the air and can be inhaled by those in the vicinity. Asbestos inhalation has been conclusively linked to the development of pleural mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer caused only by asbestos exposure. In recent years, there has been an influx of mesothelioma incidence among oil and coal workers. In addition to asbestos, other toxins were also used, including cancer-causing Benzene materials.
To those familiar with the fossil fuel industry's practice, this may seem like just another dirty chapter of a dirty business. However, many are not and awareness is imperative not only to preserving the earth for our children, but for protecting the industrial workers of this country and abroad. Alternative energy policies can save our earth and lives if we act soon.
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