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Gem Legacy Announces Silicosis Prevention Initiative

Project will provide masks and filters to fight the onset of silicosis among tanzanite miners.

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An artisanal gem miner gazes up from the entrance to a tanzanite mine in Merelani.
An artisanal gem miner gazes up from the entrance to a tanzanite mine in Merelani.

(PRESS RELEASE) ROYAL OAK, MI — Gem Legacy, a 501c3 nonprofit supporting vocational training, entrepreneurship, and community development in East African artisanal gem mining communities, is launching a new fundraising initiative to prevent silicosis in the tanzanite mining areas of Merelani, Tanzania. Gem Legacy has committed to buying masks and filters, at a cost of $30 per set-up, for 5,000 miners.

Silicosis is a disease caused by inhaling crystalline silica dust, resulting in irreversible damage to the lungs and often premature death. Tanzanite mining is prone to it because of the geology of the region and the largely underground, enclosed mining practices that often take place without sufficient ventilation. Providing miners with proper masks can prevent inhalation of silica dust, and therefore save lives. Each miner will also receive training on silicosis and why the preventive equipment is essential to their health.

Gem Legacy has received a 2022 grant from JCK Industry Fund to serve as seed money for the initiative. That funding, in addition to monies the nonprofit has earmarked for the project, leaves a deficit of $66,480.

“We are so passionate about reaching our goal for this important initiative,” says Rachel Merisheki, Gem Legacy board member. “We are asking 2,216 members of the industry to fund one mask and filter to reach this goal. Together, we can deliver life-saving equipment to the members of our industry who mine one of its most cherished gemstones.”

For more information, email info@gemlegacy.org or visit gemlegacy.org. Follow Gem Legacy on Instagram @thegemlegacy and on Facebook at Gem Legacy.

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