Sources of Natural Asbestos Exposure
People exposed to asbestos are primarily exposed through work, but there are other ways people can encounter this carcinogen. Since asbestos is naturally occurring, there is a chance when going outside people can become exposed. Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring minerals that are found in rock and soil. There are two classifications of asbestos: serpentine and amphibole. Amphibole asbestos fibers are thin and straight while serpentine asbestos fibers are curly. Chrysotile asbestos is the only member of the serpentine family while crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite are all in the amphibole family. Chrysotile was the most widely used, so it is the largest cause of mesothelioma.
Asbestos can be found naturally around the United States. On the East coast, there have been mines in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. It has also been mined in Pennsylvania and Vermont. There were three mines in Wyoming and in Libby, Montana, a mine not specifically meant to be an asbestos mine was heavily contaminated with asbestos. The vermiculite mine sent asbestos into the town air and waste contaminated with asbestos was distributed around the town. Many people died because of the contamination and the EPA had to clean the town up.
There is also a large number of asbestos deposits in Washington and California. There is a deposit of chrysotile asbestos that drains into the Sumas River. Sediment of the river has been tested, and up to 37 percent of the sediment contained asbestos. The asbestos flowing in the river is such a high concentration that the river is white. California has high levels of asbestos because there are many areas with serpentine rock, which is where chrysotile asbestos comes from.
As dangerous as natural asbestos exposure can be, many people have a much larger risk of being exposed to asbestos through their workplace. Many trades like power plants, construction sites, chemical plants, steel mills, and shipyards are all high risks for asbestos exposure. If you worked at a jobsite similar to the ones listed above and have cancer, it could be from an exposure to asbestos that you may not know about. If you do not have cancer and worked at a location similar to the above, contact a doctor to see if regular screening would be best for you. Early detection of cancer gives the best chance of living longer after diagnosis.
If you have mesothelioma or lung cancer, you could be entitled to compensation, even if you smoked. Contact us today even if you don’t know if you were exposed to asbestos. Our knowledge and experience can help you determine if you worked with or near asbestos. Call 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.