This blog has discussed the ways in which mining can increase the risk of birth defects and pose other concerns for human health, especially the practice of mountaintop removal mining. Mining unleashes toxic metals into the air and water, which can be very harmful even in small doses. While mining is usually associated with the Appalachian states, it is conducted throughout the United States. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report finding that in Arizona, mining toxic emissions were increasing. Emissions increased 22% in 2011, and 31% in 2010.
The emissions are coming from locations such as Asarco's Mission Mine Complex, which has received two violation notices in the past two months for dust storms. High winds blow down the Mission Mine Complex tailings piles, resulting in enormous gray clouds blowing through neighborhoods. Some residents in the area have complained about respiratory troubles. In 2009, Pima County ordered Asarco to pay $450,000 in penalties.
While the EPA notes that not all toxic releases mentioned in the report are harmful to human health, that has not soothed the nerves of the Mission Mine Complex's neighbors or of health officials. They are especially concerned about fine particles lodging themselves in people's lungs, leading to greater respiratory distress and cancer.
Of the 98 million pounds of toxins released in 2011, 86% came from mines and metal manufacturing businesses. Of the top 10 releasers in 2010 and 2011, seven came from mining or metal facilities, including Asarco's Mission Mine Complex and the Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold's Sierrita Mine. Some mines have reported a decrease in emissions, but the overall level remains a concern -- even though emission levels are lower now than they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Toxins from mining, such as mercury and arsenic, have resulted in a variety of birth defects. If your child was born with a birth defect that you believe is due to toxins from a nearby mine, you might consider filing a toxic tort lawsuit against the mining company. You would argue that the company had a duty to comply with state and federal emissions regulations, yet failed to do so. As a result of the company's breach, you were exposed to harmful toxic emissions while pregnant, and your child was later born with a birth defect. Even if the company technically "complied," you could argue that it still permitted unhealthy levels of toxins to be emitted. According to recent studies, those levels were enough to result in a link to birth defects, cancer, and other health problems. You might also consider suing regulatory agencies if you believe that they did not adequately perform their duties -- ensure that the mining companies complied with regulations.
The birth defect attorneys at Oshman & Mirisola, LLP have successfully represented clients in birth defect lawsuits for more than 35 years. If your child suffers from a birth defect that you believe could be due to your being exposed to harmful toxins while pregnant, please contact us today by calling (800) 400-8182, or submit our online Contact Us form.