About the author

Myron Levin is editor of FairWarning.

2 comments to “Report Renews Concern About Asbestos-Like Minerals at Sites in Arid West”

  1. Terry Trent

    Upon further review of the article, I do notice that there is a trap contained in the text above. A trap that has lead to widespread and unnecessary disease and death across our globe.

    It is only when we set aside occupational exposures to mineral fibers, and look closely at environmental exposures alone that we see more clearly that a prioritization of mineral fiber toxicity is of utmost importance. Although it is also seen in occupational exposures, but less clearly. The comment offered above by Dr. Chris Weis regarding assuming toxicity, “should be assumed [to be] capable of causing asbestos-related diseases,” is an error. The practice of this assumption, has lead United States Public Health directly into a trap, from which there appears to be no escape.

    No where can the results of that trap be better seen than in California, and that trap is a cautionary tale for the 400 natural occurring fibrous materials, that we will eventually have to deal with.

    In California there are approximately 10 million people living on surface deposits of Chrysotile asbestos. Chrysotile being the most common form of mineral fiber, approximately 95% of it. It has literally sucked the coffers dry, in poorly planned attempts and regulations to protect populations. The reason I say “poorly” is because we see very clearly today in Libby Montana, that there is no vast amount of money, no regulation we can throw at mineral fibers, once they have been released, to clean or protect, that actually works. We simply do not have any such technology available to us.

    But in California when the mineral fiber scenarios became very serious (meaning a much higher disease causing potential fiber type exposure to more and more people. Both Tremolite and Erionite), there was no money to deal with these scenarios. But worse than no money, there was a complete lack of philosophy. No mental or regulatory infrastructure.

    In much the same way that when I look at the price tag on a new Ferrari of a beach front home, I am left stuttering the words “that’s nice” with no chance or plan of how to obtain that wonderful piece of machinery or home, Public health in California, with the discovery of people being exposed to these increased potential fibers, was left muttering to themselves “that’s nice”, with no other action of any importance. Their fall back position, having no chance of actually stemming the disaster that their philosophy of “all fibers are equal” had created, was just more of the assumption that “all fibers are equal”.

    By the time we sort through the 400 mineral fibers, assuming them all to be equal, we will have amassed a body count among the fibers that we currently know are not equal at all, of such vast proportions, that we will not be able to recover any semblance of credibility on the subject.

    That particular scenario is in full view for anyone to see in El Dorado County California right now. Where public health has abandoned residents to exposures to Tremolite asbestos, and have run completely away, to hide actually, from these human exposures. All the while arguing the merits of assuming new and exotic fibers to be a threat. In this case magnesiohornblend, to be equally hazardous with all other fibers, with no earthly plan to do anything about any of it.

    That is what we see, the result of the trap of the Public health assumption. Public health firmly caught as deer in headlights, watching from the sidelines as these situations develop and evolve into huge human disasters. One after the next.

  2. Terry Trent

    I think it fair to add two more places of concern, that point to even more places. In El Dorado County California, last May, the largest Tremolite deposit ever described in the literature was discovered and confirmed in laboratory in North Carolina. That County had been moving residents onto uncontrolled surface Tremolite deposits since 1996. People’s homes! This fiber is one of three known fibers that cause human epidemics in the absence of occupational exposures. Tremolite, Crocidolite and Erionite. Although the County has since taken measures to protect these unfortunate residents, literature from as early as 1988 and the more recent work at the New Calaveras Dam project in California demonstrate, that water can’t be used effectively, and may even cause worse exposures in the long run, by breaking the hydrophobic bundles apart. Other measures are equally frustrated.

    Ambler Pennsylvania, the site of the largest asbestos dump in the United States, with people living all over it, and more planned, points to an even more frustrating bit of science….already known in Libby Montana, The most deadly of fiber exposures, (including erionite) are not measurable in Ambient air. Although Ambler is the site of dumping and high use of crocidolite fibers, all that can be found in the air is Chrysotile asbestos. Leading the University of Pennsylvania to erroneously conclude that the deaths there are being caused by Chrysotile. What is found in lung upon death is such areas are the three fibers I mention. But what is measured in Air is Chrysotile alone. The same thing is found in Cappadocia. Turkey. Excursion exposures are the almost exclusive cause of accumulation in lungs. Ambient air measurements are obsolete and dangerous.

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