The asbestos mining boom of the 1940’s in Wittenoon Australia has had devastating effects on the aboriginal population of Western Australia. The aboriginals are now considered to have the highest rates of mesothelioma of any population group in the entire world. How did this group of people who had, previous to the mining boom of the 40’s, little to no mesothelioma become the world’s most high risk group of people?
The Colonial Sugar Refinery started the Wittenoon asbestos mining boom during the year 1943 after discovering the vast amount of asbestos hidden beneath the rocky ground. They immediately set to work with hiring aboriginal men and women to mine out the asbestos. This was the main cause of why mesothelioma is so rampant among Wittenoon aboriginals, they were directly mining asbestos in non-ventilated mines for many years.
Not only were the mines unventilated, but the aboriginals were also not given any kind of protection from the asbestos that they were mining. They received no face masks or anything to keep them from inhaling the deadly asbestos.
Asbestos causes cancer by traveling down your bronchi and wedging itself deep down into the tissues of your lungs. The aboriginals had nothing to protect against this. The clouds of asbestos in the air were so thick at times that a miner could not see more than two feet in front of themselves.
Not only did the miners become affected by this asbestos contamination, but the entire area was contaminated. The mining of asbestos left a thick dust over the entire area of Wittenoon Australia, affecting women and children as well as miners.
Australian officials are still trying to come up with solutions to this problem.