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Instant insight: asbestos comes naturally.

Authors
Harper-M
Source
Chem Sci 2008 Dec; 5(12):C93
NIOSHTIC No.
20034939
Abstract
Recently, we have started to view the environment as a source of substances likely to be harmful to human health. A high-profile example of this 'natural pollution' is the contamination of groundwater by arsenic from natural sources in Bangladesh and India. Another, less well-known problem is asbestos that occurs naturally in rock. Naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) is the name given to the silicate minerals serpentine and amphibole that, in certain environmental conditions, form exceedingly thin crystals in parallel alignment - with the appearance of cotton or silk. The term NOA can also be used to describe different minerals that crystallise in a finely fibrous manner resembling asbestos, and minerals that can produce elongated particles when broken or crushed. The most significant risk from NOA is serious illness that may occur through exposure through inhalation. NOA is an issue of study, debate and concern within the affected areas of the US today, and also for some countries around the Mediterranean, such as Italy and Turkey, where NOA is relatively common. However, the widespread occurrence of these minerals suggests that this matter will become an issue for many other countries in the future.
Keywords
Pollutants; Pollution; Asbestos-dust; Asbestos-fibers; Asbestosis; Environmental-contamination; Environmental-exposure; Environmental-factors; Environmental-hazards; Environmental-pollution; Minerals; Inhalation-studies; Respiratory-hypersensitivity; Respiratory-irritants; Public-health
Contact
Martin Harper, Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Heath, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505
Publication Date
20081208
Document Type
Journal Article; Trade
Fiscal Year
2009
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Issue of Publication
12
ISSN
1478-6524
NIOSH Division
HELD
Priority Area
Mining
Source Name
Chemical Science
State
WV
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