El Dorado Rock Producers Say Risks Overblown, Argue What is 'Asbestos'
EL DORADO HILLS, CA - January 12, 2007 - Naturally occurring asbestos exists in soil and rock throughout the community of El Dorado Hills, according to a study released by the U.S. Geological Survey. The agency conducted the study at the request of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which was criticized by crushed rock producers for pointing out the area's asbestos hazards. Generally, asbestos-containing rock is found in the fault zones in the low Sierras, in some California coastal communities, and in the foothills of Virginia. This rock or soil is classified as either "ultramafic," or " serpentine."
In June of last year, the EPA released its own study that indicated asbestos contamination at El Dorado parks and schools. In simulated tests, researchers showed that everyday activities such as playing ball or walking down a trail could stir up high levels of asbestos. Building homes or constructing roads may also allow asbestos to become airborne.
The Geological Survey report found asbestos in the form of actinolite, tremolite and chrysotile. Chrysotile or white asbestos accounts for most of the commercial asbestos still in use today. Actinolite is white to green in color, has small fibers and has limited commercial use. Tremolite has longer fibers. It was the main contaminant of a vermiculite ore mine in Libby, Montana that caused many workers to develop asbestos-related diseases.
Some types of asbestos found in El Dorado Hills were not easily categorized. Nevertheless, most medical experts agree that all forms of asbestos are harmful, including the types found in samples from El Dorado Hills. Also, inhaling any asbestos dust can cause asbestosis, asbestos lung cancer and the cancer mesothelioma.
The rock producers had hired a firm that stated that most fibers studied in the EPA report were not true asbestos and did not affect health. They also claimed that the aluminum content of the fibers precluded their classification as asbestos. The Geological Survey report refuted the theory about aluminum content. It also stated that rock producers, mineralogists, the mining industry and the building industry, should not be the judges of the toxicity of soil from El Dorado Hills. Rather, the issue should be decided by health experts. The report also suggested that public officials and residents should determine the next steps in protecting the community.
The full text of the EPA report, El Dorado Hills, Naturally Occurring Asbestos Multimedia Exposure , may be found on the agency's web site. The text of Mineralogy and Morphology of Amphiboles Observed in Soils and Rocks in El Dorado Hills, California may be found on the U.S. Geological Survey web site.
At Brayton Purcell, we are concerned about asbestos on the job, in the home, and in our environment. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, please contact our asbestos lawyers to discuss your legal rights. Since 1984 we have been successfully handling asbestos litigation.
More Information on Asbestos in El Dorado Hills:
- El Dorado Hills Development Could Disturb Natural Asbestos Deposit (March, 2009)