Law: Dangerous Dust

Employers must pay the cost

It often begins with wheezing and shortness of breath. Eventually it can lead to death. Byssinosis (nicknamed "brown lung" disease) is caused primarily by cotton dust that fills the air in textile plants. As many as 150,000 employed and retired cotton-mill workers may suffer from some form of the ailment. In the cotton-mill country of the South, a sardonic slogan addressed to consumers is "Blue jeans for you, brown lung for us."

Three years ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposed stringent limits on the amount of cotton dust that manufacturers could have...

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