The inaugural issue of the OEHNI Times focuses on some of the dust diseases and reminds us that despite the fact that “Current Science” issue of 1934 drew attention on the prevalence of Silicosis in Kolar Gold Mine Workers the elaborate mechanisms of the State have failed to address this terminal disease and have been and continue to be grossly unjust to the workers.
More than 2,000 men, women and children in India have died miserable deaths due to silicosis, while polishing gemstones for export to the U.S. and Europe. Agate and other semi-precious gemstone hearts, beads pendants, earrings, bracelets, ornaments—and even rosary beads and the Star of David are made in India. Workers are paid just 17 ½ to 33 ½ cents an hour to do one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, squatting in front of primitive grinding wheels, using their fingers to press agate and other semi‐precious stones against the wheels to shape them. In the process they are covered with silica dust. Thirty percent of all gemstone grinders will die of silicosis. The OEHNI Times can be downloaded as a pdf here.