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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Green Tongues: A Social Justice Issue

Joanne Godley, MD, MPH, MBe, University of Pennsylvania, 4624 Osage Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143, 215 805 6521, ochresis@yahoo.com and Marsha Coleman Adebayo, PHD, Environmental Protection Agency, 8815 Earl Court, Bethesda, MD 20817.

Two health assessments of vanadium mineworkers and their families were conducted in 1999 and 2004 during visits hosted by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). The informal surveys revealed a host of medical complaints including upper and lower respiratory symptoms, sexual dysfunction, bleeding during urination and defecation, and bleeding from the eyes and nose. All of the miners noted green tongues shortly after commencing work at the mine. Many of the family members had similar health complaints. A vanadium mine was toured and health and occupational issues were discussed with management. Workers mine this mineral in the northeast regions of the country in open pit mines without the benefit of protective clothing or respiratory gear. The majority of the miners and their families live in close proximity to the mines. Miners are under threat of dismissal if they became ill. Neither health nor burial insurance is provided. Vanadium is a metallic element used as a ubiquitous steel additive. South Africa is the world's largest producer of this metal. American corporate subsidiaries have significant business interests in the extraction and processing of this metal and the industrial world is heavily reliant on vanadium. There are few scientific studies on the environmental impact of vanadium pentoxide. There are fewer health hazard studies that take into account the significant exposures experienced by South African vanadium mineworkers. Vanadium mining promotes environmental and social injustices that have received little international support.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Global Perspectives in Occupational Health and Safety

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA