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Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. The State of West Virginia has a Bureau of Mines, I believe?
Mr. YANT. It has a State department of mines. Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. No doubt the officials of the Bureau of Mines of the State of West Virginia could have gone in there and remedied that bad situation?
Mr. YANT. I am not acquainted with all the facts, and I have heard many rumors. I do not believe that the West Virginia Bureau of Mines had jurisdiction over the straight construction of a tunnel.
The jurisdiction of that agency extends only, as I am informed, to mining operations.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. That agency was not allowed to intervene without a law permitting it to do so.
Mr. YANT. That is right, according to my understanding.
Mr. GRISWOLD. It was testified here that, due to a technicality in the West Virginia law, the contractor or the company contested the right of the West Virginia Bureau of Mines to take cognizance of the conditions that existed in the construction of that Gauley Bridge tunnel.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. But it was also testified that the chief of the bureau of mines, Mr. Lambie, went to court and testified for the defendants, despite the fact that he had issued five separate and distinct warnings to the contractors, Rinehart and Dennis, to desist from these harmful practices.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. It was also testified here that inspectors were sent to this tunnel and when they arrived a signal would be given by a contractor's employee that the inspectors were on the job, and when they came upon the job dry drilling was discontinued and all the drilling was wet. Then when the inspectors left the tunnel dry drilling was resumed.
Mr. YANT. I did not hear that testimony.
Something quicker is needed. We need a method whereby we can tell whether or not the dust will be harmful and whereby we can get a measure of the silica-producing tendencies in advance of the 6 months as a minimum or a year or 2 or 10 or 20 years.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. An X-ray examination is not by any means accurate in the inception of this disease, is it?
Mr. YANT. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. But a chemical test would be more preferable, would it not?
Mr. Yant. Yes. An X-ray examination is not accurate for more than one means. I mentioned the difference of opinion in distinguishing where the beginning point is. It is a progression.
Mr. GRISWOLD. What sort of chemical test is made?
Mr. YANT. It is now only a research test, and it has to do with the amount of silica secreted in the urine.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Is that the only sort of chemical test that is made at the present time?
Mr. YANT. Yes. Autopsies show the amount of silica in the lungs. That is not, however, what we should consider in a situation like this. The chemical test would be confined entirely, I would say, to the urine.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Therefore, that would not be an exact and determining test, would it?
Mr. YANT. It would be a test that would be useful after one has enough information and has correlated the urine excretions with exposure and harmful conditions and until you have developed it until it was a measure of that condition.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Your analyses now often show things that are accidental or irregular. Would not that be true also in the matter of silica?
Mr. YANT. It would to some extent.
Mr. GRISWOLD. It might be accidental or unusual at a particular time, due, say, to drinking water.
Mr. YÁNT. Yes. Normally one excretes a certain amount of silica or lead. All individuals when we are living on foods taken from tin cans and other things that are soldered are affected in this connection by that. We live in painted houses, and therefore we all excrete a certain threshold amount of lead. We set a certain figure as a normal amount, and when we exceed that it becomes abnormal and becomes significant from a diagnostic standpoint. That is the same as we have in a case of benzol poisoning. We go largely on the anemia index. People have all ranges of blood cells, but if a group of persons has a lower tendency shown by blood count, and it is below the average, that is significant of an improper exposure.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Do metabolism tests do any good in connection with silicosis?
Mr. YANT. I doubt it in the presence of our present information.
Also, we need some better methods for determining the degree of incapacity. One man might have a certain degree of fibrosis, we will say, or fibroid formations and his incapacity may be less than another
This should be combined with some measure of incapacity. I am considering simple silicosis that is not complicated by tuberculosis.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Is that condition known as silicosis-tuberculosis?
Mr. Yant. You could call it that. Fibrosis is merely a formation of fibrous tissue. If one cuts his hand he gets a scar of fibrous tissue. If that displaces the active tissue, there is a certain incapacity.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. Can one develop that by inhaling?
Mr. YANT. Silicosis uncomplicated by tuberculosis is largely an incapacitating affair, and it decreases one's ability to carry oxygen through the lungs to the blood stream. Oxygen is a necessary requirement for normal body functioning. That is why in some cases there is a shortness of breath. When one walks he requires four or five times as much oxygen as when he is sitting still. If one puts a burden upon the body he must breathe harder to carry on.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. It decreases the respiratory functions. And when one is incapacitated he becomes, naturally, more susceptible to tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Mr. YANT. Yes; that creates a very fertile ground for such infections at least.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Let us assume that there were a thousand workers in this tunnel; that the dust was so thick one could not see a distance of 10 feet; those workers were employed there 10 hours a day for 3 months; in your opinion, what percentage of them would contract silicosis?
Mr. YANT. Your visualized condition of exposure is so great that it comes outside our realm of experience.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. Would you maintain that out of the thousand workers at least 5 percent would contract silicosis?
Mr. Yant. I should say that if the conditions were as bad as have been described, I could not see why all did not get silicosis. We know that silicosis in true form can actually form in from 3 to 6 months. On the other hand, if there were 3,000 men in the tunnel it would not follow that such number were at the heading where the dust concentration was the same as elsewhere. Relatively few of the men would be engaged in actual drilling and the remainder would be distributed throughout the tunnel. The matter of ventilation determines the amount of dust quite largely.
Mr. GRISWOLD. And one would have to take into consideration the resistance of the individual, more or less, would he not?
Mr. YANT. Yes.
Mr. GRISWOLD. The same amount of silica might affect one man more than it would another man.
Mr. YANT. Yes. There are idiosyncrasies that must be taken into consideration. Some men are hypersensitive to such a condition, and others are not. On the other hand, there are factors that one does not have to call idiosyncracies in determining whether or not they would all get silicosis. A man doing hard work will breathe perhaps four times as much air as a man doing light work; therefore he is breathing four times as much dust. All the air that is breathed is not trapped. It is difficult to trap dust, but some of it is trapped.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. We have a letter from one who more or less seeks to minimize this tragedy. That letter is to the effect that he and other doctors examined 309 workers in this tunnel and found 137 of them having silicosis. This examination was made within a year or two after their last contact with the silica dust. If that's the case more than 331/3 percent of those exposed contracted silicosis.
Mr. YANT. I doubt whether the findings would have been different a year previous or a year later. Once a fibrous tissue forms in the lungs it will be there 10 years later. It is the same as a scar.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. How about the remainder of those workers, those aside from the 137 ? Assuming that they too contracted silicosis; is there possibility that they developed it after the examination ?
Mr. Yant. If there was no demonstrated silicosis by X-ray at the end of a year or later, I would say that in a large majority of cases I would expect no large increase in the number at a subsequent examination.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. But there is a possibility of increase in the number?
Mr. YANT. I merely leave the exceptional cases for what I do not know about them.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Is fibrosis or scar tissue in the lungs the same as in tuberculosis cases?
Mr. YANT. In tuberculosis there is usually a calsification of the -nodules. There is a calsification that walls off the tuberculosis and renders it inactive. That is why we hear of active and inactive tuberculosis.
Mr. GRISWOLD. We find arrested cases of tuberculosis which still show scar tissue, do we not?
Mr. Yant. Yes; we see that in the X-ray.
Mr. Yant. No. Silicosis is largely formed during the time of exposure and it does not continue. In other words, the damage is done during exposure and within a year following that.
Mr. GRISWOLD. Then there is no such thing as an arrested case of silicosis?
Mr. YANT. No. After a year from date of last exposure we find a certain condition. One is producing fibrous tissue at the time of exposure and up to the point of incapacity. If one stops short of incapacity, I doubt if he will go over to a point of incapacity.
Mr. GRISWOLD. But if he did continue to be exposed
Mr. YANT. The mechanism forming the disease would be in progress.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. With reference to the possibility of a person who has not been exposed to the point of incapacity, if he leaves the condition which might incapacitate, it is purely speculative, highly so, whether or not the disease may progress to a point of incapacity, is it not?
Mr. YANT. No. The usual findings are that it has not progressed to the state of incapacity.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. But if the disease does reach the state of incapacity there cannot be any arrest of it?
Mr. YANT. It will arrest itself, but you will not have a retrogressive action. It does not go back. It is not retrogressive. It is not so in a large majority of the cases. It remains in that state.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. As a matter of fact, once a person becomes incapacitated by silicosis, we can fairly state that he is incurable, according to the medical knowledge of this subject at the present time. Is that a true statement ?
Mr. Yant. We cannot restore it to the original, normal condition.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. That is a conservative way of saying that the man is incurable, is it not?
Mr. YANT. I look at it in a different light than you do, because it is a degree of incapacity. That man would be quite all right if he had no tuberculosis as a complication. He could do much work and he would not necessarily be an unhealthy man. He would not necessarily feel any pain or any illness, but his ability to do hard work would be decreased to that extent.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. And the same is applicable to many diseases. For instance, in diabetes a man can usually function quite normally; he can do practically the same work anybody else can do. On the other hand that same person is so debilitated pathologically, so unable to fight off infections, that he is living under a continuous handicap in view of prospective infection. His ability to fight off infection is very weak. Is that true?
Mr. YANT. Your case is more severe than this one.
Mr. GRISWOLD. What you are trying to get at is this: If a man loses an arm he is disabled to the extent of having that arm off.
Mr. YANT. Yes.
Mr. Griswold. If a man has silicosis and it goes no further, he is disabled to the extent that his respiratory organs are adversely affected, but if there is probably no other decrease in capacity then that man will go along and live a normal life like a man with one
Mr. YANT. Yes.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. The person who has silicosis to an incapacitating degree is more susceptible to lung infections, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, than is a person who is not so incapacitated, is he not?
Mr. YANt. He certainly is during the time of exposure, and he might be later. Again I would rather you questioned the medical profession about that, because I am not a physician.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. And with the concentration of silica that has been testified to here, the degree of incapacity would be greater, would it not ?
Mr. YANT. I do not distinguish between concentration and time of
exposure. One can get just as severe a case of incapacity from a long exposure to a low concentration as one can get from a short exposure to a high concentration.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. What would happen with a long exposure to a very heavy concentration ?
Mr. YANT. I do not think that could exist. One would reach complete incapacity.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. So that if men were working 10 hours a day over a considerable period in a concentration of silica such as has been described here the likelihood would be complete incapacity, would it not?
Mr. YANT. You have described conditions that would probably produce that. I do not know what they had.
The one point I want to bring out now is the great need of education in this kind of important work. We need to educate not only the employer but the employees as well to some extent.
In the recital here it has been said that there were a certain number of drills boring horizontally wet and a certain number of drills boring vertically dry. The reason for those vertical drills being dry is not always inherent in the wishes of the employer, but in the wish of the employee. It is very nasty to work with a vertical drill. The water comes back down the drill and makes a mess of things. It is often difficult and as a matter of fact it is very difficult indeed in many instances to get workers to use the vertical drills wet. That is one reason we should develop a trap to remove the discomfort that flows from the use of vertical drills. There are practical angles that enter into this important problem.
Mr. MARCANTONIO. Referring to that problem, the use of wet drills and dry drills is dependent upon the orders issued by the one in charge of the construction job, is it not?
Mr. YANT. Certainly.
Mr. DUNN of Pennsylvania. You are connected with the United States Bureau of Mines?
Mr. YANT. Yes.
Mr. Dunn of Pennsylvania. The Federal Government, of course, maintains your Bureau by annual appropriations?