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Dr. SAYERS. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. It gradually chokes off the air cells in the lungs, does it not? I am trying to describe it in lay language as best I can. That is what happens, is it not, in the progress of silicosis? There is a choking off in the air cells. i Dr. SAYERS. It is generalized throughout the lungs. It is not in one spot. | Mr. MARCANTONIO. There is a choking in the air cells. Does not that produce death by strangulation?
Dr. SAYERS. Yes; due to a lack of oxygen. The oxygen does not go to the tissues.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. It is strangulation and it is quite painful, is it not?
Dr. SAYERS. I do not understand that it is painful. One is short of breath. One cannot do anything because he is short of breath, he cannot breathe fast enough. One has to stop and rest.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. The miners describe this trouble as asthma, do they not?
Dr. SAYERS. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. And an asthmatic condition is painful, there is an inability to breathe properly.
Dr. SAYERS. It is distressing rather than painful, if I may modify your word. I do not think it is painful.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. It all depends upon what one means by the word “pain.” If one is dying from strangulation is that distressing?
Dr. ŠAYERS When one is to the point that he is dying there may be pain. As I have said before, I have not actually seen a man die from silicosis. I have not seen any man in pain with simple silicosis.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. But these men with simple silicosis or some state of silicosis
Dr. SAYERS. It is simply silicosis when not complicated by any other infection.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. In simple silicosis there is a shortness of breath, is there not?
Dr. SAYERS. Yes.
Dr. SAYERS. Yes; and frequently a cough goes with that condition. It is an unproductive cough.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. And that cough is quite racking, is it not?
Dr. SAYERS. You might call that pain. I have not considered it pain. I have not seen that very serious; I have not seen serious pain in the chest.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Aside from the pain in the chest, when one has a racking cough and experiences difficulty in breathing, he is in a painful situation, is he not?
Dr. SAYERS. It is a definition that we are talking about here. I have seen them cough till they vomited.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. That is more distressing, Doctor?
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Where there is a concentration of 97 percent silica, where one cannot see 10 feet when the lights are burning brightly, that is an unusual situation, is it not?
Dr. SAYERS. Yes; it is a very unusual situation.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Having in mind that unusual situation, most unusual results would follow that condition, would they not!
Dr. SAYERS. They would occur very much quicker and probably be more unusual.
Mr. RANDOLPH. The testimony before this subcommittee is to the effect that distressing conditions have occurred in the construction of the Gauley Bridge tunnel; and we as a committee feel that, in the light of this so-called tragedy—and it may be called a tragedy to a marked degree—that if we are the means of bringing 30 or 35 States that do not at this time have silicosis as a compensable disease to consider it as a compensable disease, then we shalî have rendered a really beneficial service.
I am sure that members of the committee appreciate the valuable contribution you as a representative of the United States Public Health Service have made here this morning, Dr. Sayers.
Are there any further questions?
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Have you met any silicosis condition in any appreciable degree in the Dakotas; have you received any complaints from workers in the Homestake mine?
Dr. SAYERS. I have not received any complaints. I am trying to recall the statistics connected with this matter. I think respiratory diseases among those workers are high. I am referring to gold mining in South Dakota, which probably has to do with the Homestake mine. Respiratory diseases among those workers are high.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. I intend, with the permission of the committee, to go into the Homestake mine situation in South Dakota. Can you between now and the time we may consider that matter look into the record in that connection?
Dr. SAYERS. I shall be glad to look into the data we have. What I was quoting is contained in published data. It is available to anybody. I do not know, however, but what there are many of those that are equally needing attention.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. I think that all need attention, especially in the States where they pay only $500 to a victim of silicosis, and yet some of the States do not pay anything. If one goes before the Compensation Commission of West Virginia in connection with a case of silicosis, he is simply foolish. He cannot prove his case.
If your service has any information concerning the Homestake mine of South Dakota, I shall be glad to have it for use before this committee.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Would you say that practically every owner of a mine has the information that would help to prevent silicosis?
Dr. SAYERS. I do not know whether each mine owner or operator has the information, but I know that it is at least available to him.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. He knows what is necessary to do in order to prevent the diseases incident to his operation and to keep the death rate down and the disease rate at a low level?
Dr. SAYERS. Details of the methods they quite often do not know; but in general they do know.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Would it not be worth while to have a law compelling every person owning or operating a mine or a factory to avail himself of adequate and proper information such as your organization has that would tend to protect and promote the health of employees?
Dr. SAYERS. I am afraid that if such were put into operation we would have to get another appropriation for purposes of publishing the information.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Even if the Congress should have to appropriate five times the amount we are appropriating for it now, that sum would be infinitesimal in comparison with the good that would be obtained.
Dr. SAYERS. Yes; I think you are right.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. I would be willing to support any legislation that would give your organization the necessary funds to carry on such a humanitarian project.
Dr. SAYERS. I believe you are right.
Mr. RANDOLPH. Dr. Sayers, the committee is indebted to you for your testimony; and perhaps at some later time we may find it expedient to call on you again. I hope you will be able to come back if we do.
We will adjourn the case now, to meet tomorrow morning at 10:30, when Dr. Finch and Mr. Yant, both of the Bureau of Mines, will be heard further.
(Thereupon, at 12:15 p. m., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 1936, the subcommittee adjourned, to meet at 10:30 a. m., Wednesday, Jan. 29, 1936.) INVESTIGATION RELATING TO HEALTH CONDITIONS OF WORKERS EMPLOYED IN THE CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF PUBLIC UTILITIES
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29, 1936
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON LABOR,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee this day met at 10:30 a. m., Hon. Glenn Griswold presiding, for further consideration of House Joint Resolution 449, to authorize the Secretary of Labor to appoint a board of inquiry to ascertain the facts relating to health conditions of workers employed in the construction and maintenance of public utilities.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM P. YANT, UNITED STATES BUREAU
Mr. GRISWOLD. The subcommittee will please be in order. Our witness this morning is Mr. William P. Yant, of the United States Bureau of Mines. Mr. Yant, have you a prepared statement?
Mr. YANT. No; but I have made some notes this morning from which I can talk.
Mr. GRISWOLD. We shall be very glad to have you make any statement you care to make concerning the situation in West Virginia, telling us anything that you think might be of interest to the committee in connection with its investigation of this mining situation and silicosis.
Mr. YANT. You have previously heard Dr. Finch, Chief of the Bureau of Mines. He has given you a résumé of the work that has been done and is being done by the Bureau of Mines and its connection with the silicosis problem in the mineral industries; and only yesterday you heard Dr. Sayers, of the United States Public Health Service, go into the medical aspects of the problem. Inasmuch as Dr. Sayers was chief surgeon of the Bureau of Mines for 12 or 13 years and until his more recent detail back to the United States Public Health Service, I do not believe it is necessary to discuss things that he has told you. We all work together in this matter. We are in close contact, and we are close together in our ideas
I merely want to say at the outset that I heartily concur in what Dr. Finch and Dr. Sayers have said to you gentlemen of the committee. I listened to their testimony intently and found nothing wrong with it.
There are some other aspects and details in connection with this matter that might be of value to the committee. In order to have an understanding of the silicosis problem as I see it I have made notes that I shall talk from.
In the testimony that has been brought out here I do not think a clear picture was presented as to what the dust is. That is quite necessary in order to understand the problem and to determine with accuracy what should be done about it.
We might say that silicosis is much wider than it is at Gauley Bridge. All of us are exposed to dust, since all of us meet with wind storms. That is a driven dust. I would not be surprised if we should examine a number of farmers in some territories that we would find silicosis in them to some degree due to dust with which they come in contact. However, the dust in which we are interested at the moment is that generated by mechanical means.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Had we experienced much trouble with silicosis, extensive trouble, prior to the time this tunnel was constructed ?
Mr. YANT. Yes; in tunneling and mine operations. Those operations can take place anywhere.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Has there been any situation like this brought to your attention, a situation that is as serious as this one appears to be?
Mr. Yant. Not in all of its details. That might be explained in one or two ways. In the first place we are all now becoming dust and silicosis conscious. I would not be surprised if 10 or 20 years ago we would have found a similar condition existing in this country.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Is it not a fact that there was in Nevada in some mining operations something similar to the condition we had at Gauley Bridge and which created quite a furore a number of years
Mr. YANT. Yes. There was silicosis in the Joplin, Mo., district, and in the early days there was silicosis in the Butte, Mont., district.
Silicosis was quite prevalent before we started using precaution: ary measures in tunnel and mine operations, especially where they drilled dry.
The point that has been brought out most strikingly is the manner of drilling. That is not the only operation in the formation of dust. It is one operation, but another operation is blasting. Another is in mucking and cleaning up in a tunnel job. In a tunnel job to clean up and prevent silicosis requires not only wet drilling but requires precautions in blasting, mucking, ventilation, and the whole operation.
Another point is the composition of dust. Dust can vary in composition anywhere from zero silica to practically 100 percent silica. In dealing with silicosis one must determine how much silica is present. That at Gauley Bridge was better than 99 percent, which, of course, is the upper extreme. We do not need to consider lower than that as regards composition.
Another factor is size of the dust. Obviously, if we break up rock, distintegrate rock, we have anything from large to small sizes: but it is the dust in which you are really interested, the dust that stays in the air, is at least one-half submicroscopical, you cannot see it even with a microscope. The particles are at least one-half in all cases less than one micron. One micron is one twenty-five thousandths of an inch. That accounts for the fact that to a large extent you cannot see the dust in the air unless the cloud gets so heavy that it starts to obscure the light of these particles and then you have a visible effect. If you have been in an old barn or some