03/25/2013 03:09 pm ET

How The Shiny 'Agate' Stones In Jewelry And Rosary Beads Are Killing Workers

KHAMBHAT, India — A few years ago, when occupational safety activists came to Hydersha Diwan's village here, 300 miles north of Mumbai, he drove them away with threats and bluster.

Today, he wishes that he'd listened.

Doctors say the 50-year-old is dying of silicosis, a wasting lung disease that he contracted inhaling deadly silica dust as a grinder of agates — colorful, semi-precious stones exported to the United States and other Western countries, and commonly used in silver and brass jewelry, rosary beads and home decorations.

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