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J Environ Monit. 2008 Dec;10(12):1394-408. doi: 10.1039/b810541n. Epub 2008 Sep 26.

10th Anniversary Critical Review: Naturally occurring asbestos.

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Exposure Assessment Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Rd., Morgantown, WV 26505, USA.


Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral in the Earth's crust, and it is not confined to the historic and current asbestos mining areas, but rather quite commonly encountered in certain geological environments across the world. That diseases developed as a result of high exposures suffered by miners and asbestos products workers is incontrovertible. In addition, asbestos contamination as a result of past production and use is considered a serious issue where remediation is normally required. However, the risk to health of living on soil and rock where asbestos is encountered as a result of the natural occurrence of small quantities of asbestos minerals is less obvious. The picture becomes even less clear when the minerals are subject to intensive investigation, since our generally accepted definitions of asbestos are themselves put to the test. The discovery of asbestos or related minerals has consequences beyond any immediate risks to health, including profound effects on the value of and ability to use or enjoy property. This review examines the issue of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) as it has developed in the United States of America and elsewhere, including some superficial insights into the reactions of communities to the presence of NOA. These responses to 'contamination' by nature deserve further in-depth study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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