Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Tuberculosis (TB)

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HealthWiki > A Community Guide to Environmental Health > Chapter 21: Mining and Health > Tuberculosis(TB)


Because miners often live in crowded conditions, work long hours without enough food, and have little access to health care or medicines, they have a high risk of getting TB. Signs of TB include a bad cough that will not go away, fever, coughing up blood, feeling weak, weight loss, and night sweats. Without proper treatment, a person can spread TB to others and can die.

TB can be fatal to anyone, but is especially dangerous for people weak from hunger or other illnesses like HIV and AIDS. Lung damage from dust increases the risk of TB even more.

5 men, all coughing, in a small cramped room with bunk beds. Clothes hang on string tied to beds. Dirty boots and tools are on the floor.
When people live in crowded conditions, like mining dormitories, TB can spread rapidly.

Good ventilation will reduce the chance of TB spreading through a mine, miners’ dormitories, or homes. The best way to prevent TB among miners, or any workers, is to create the conditions for good health through:

  • better pay
  • shorter work hours
  • safer work conditions
  • safe, clean living conditions
  • clean water
  • healthy food
  • good health care

To prevent the spread of TB, it is important to make sure everyone with TB gets proper treatment and medicine. Many governments provide free TB treatment; to get medications, see a health worker. (For more information on TB, see “Tuberculosis (TB, consumption)” or a general health book such as Where There Is No Doctor.)


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