Thursday, July 13, 2006

Natural asbestos deposits affecting residential areas

The industrial asbestos story continues with the defeat of the national fund to compensate workers harmed by the presence of asbestos and now a new asbestos risk due to naturally occurring deposits of asbestos may be rearing its ugly head. Recently Science News reported about a town in California plagued by naturally occurring asbestos as they dug into ores while building new residential housing. Asbestos contamination is so scary because it can cause Asbestosis (lung scaring) Mesothelioma (a lung cancer), and other types of Cancer. These diseases also have long latency times so exposure can result in illness 20 years down the line.

From the introduction to the USGS report,
"Natural asbestos occurrences are of concern due to the potential exposures that may result if the asbestos-bearing rocks are disturbed by natural erosion or human activities."
The map centered on Delaware above is excerpted from a larger USGS map of naturally occurring asbestos on the east coast. Are any of these sights near where you live? Do you think some clever lawyer defending a company responsible for exposing its workers to asbestos might try to use naturally occurring asbestos exposure as a way to dodge responsibility?

The map and much more information can be found in the USGS report, "Reported Historic Asbestos Mines, Historic Asbestos Prospects, and Natural Asbestos Occurrences in the Eastern United States" authored by Bradley S. Van Gosen. (the map in a large .pdf is here, and the text portion of the map in .pdf is here)

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