Most people know asbestos as a dangerous substance which causes mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer in the lungs with a low survival rate. However, many people may not realize that asbestos can occur in the natural world as well.
Until the 1970s, asbestos was commonly used in offices, buildings, and facilities along with some homes. It was wrapped around pipes or used in firewalls because it is essentially fireproof. Many facilities had blankets made from asbestos to put out fires. Only after the evidence of its dangers started to emerge in the 1960s was the substance banned from new construction projects.
While the danger asbestos presents in nature is not nearly as great as it’s danger when it is found in homes, the threat is still real. Mesothelioma is caused by long-term exposure to asbestos particles that are suspended in the air, from whatever source.
Recently, the damaged Oroville Dam spillway located near Sacramento, California was inspected and natural deposits of asbestos were found. The asbestos was found in limited areas of the site amid the debris, dirt, and rocks that washed to the base of the spillway. The origin of the naturally occurring asbestos was in the foothills and mountains located around the lake. In fact, it is common to find naturally occurring asbestos across California, near the mountains and foothills.
Although natural, it still presents the risk of mesothelioma for those who may live or work around such areas. As with asbestos that is found in buildings and residences, it does not become a danger to those who live or work inside unless it breaks apart and creates airborne particles. Asbestos that is still in a solid form or wrapped presents no danger.
Natural asbestos that is still part of the rocks represents little danger, especially when the exposure is limited. However, if the rocks are broken apart, then particles of asbestos can become airborne and enter the lungs. The relatively few cases of mesothelioma that were caused by naturally occurring asbestos were mostly around sites where the rocks containing the substance had been broken apart by drilling or through natural forces.
In the case of the Oroville Dam, work crews are now watering-down the trucks and vehicles to reduce the amount of dust in the air. Wet drilling methods are also being used to also tamp down on the dust particles.
If you suspect that your home, office, or facility still has asbestos, call the professionals at Brickley Environmental. Their services include conducting a proper inspection to locate any asbestos inside the structure. If found, the asbestos can be checked and removed properly so that it limits any contamination to those living or working inside. If your residence or building was constructed before the late 1970s and has not been renovated or inspected for the presence of asbestos, call the staff at Brickley Environmental today.