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Exposure to erionite, an asbestos-like mineral, causes unprecedented rates of malignant mesothelioma (MM) mortality in some Turkish villages. Erionite deposits are present in at least 12 US states. We investigated whether increased urban development has led to erionite exposure in the United States and after preliminary exploration, focused our studies on Dunn County, North Dakota (ND). In Dunn County, ND, we discovered that over the past three decades, more than 300 miles of roads were surfaced with erionite-containing gravel. To determine potential health implications, we compared erionite from the Turkish villages to that from ND. Our study evaluated airborne point exposure concentrations, examined the physical and chemical properties of erionite, and examined the hallmarks of mesothelial cell transformation in vitro and in vivo. Airborne erionite concentrations measured in ND along roadsides, indoors, and inside vehicles, including school buses, equaled or exceeded concentrations in Boyali, where 6.25% of all deaths are caused by MM. With the exception of outdoor samples along roadsides, ND concentrations were lower than those measured in Turkish villages with MM mortality ranging from 20 to 50%. The physical and chemical properties of erionite from Turkey and ND are very similar and they showed identical biological activities. Considering the known 30- to 60-y latency for MM development, there is reason for concern for increased risk in ND in the future. Our findings indicate that implementation of novel preventive and early detection programs in ND and other erionite-rich areas of the United States, similar to efforts currently being undertaken in Turkey, is warranted.
An ingredient commonly found in road gravel used in several U.S. states has been linked to a form of lung cancer associated with asbestos.
Researchers at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center say that exposure to high levels of the mineral erionite can lead to the development of mesothelioma, a type of cancer of the membranes around the lungs.
The researchers said that erionite particles can be dislodged from road surfaces by vehicle traffic and become airborne and lodged in people’s lungs.
Evidence suggests that erionite may be more toxic than serpentine asbestos. According to Dr. Bill Cordua, U. Wisconsin - River Falls:
This mineral is considered so hazardous that the EPA requires any one who intends to manufacture, import or process any article containing erionite to notify the E.P.A. 90 days in advance. ... It is not clear why erionite is so toxic. Other fibrous zeolites tested - mordenite and various synthetic zeolites - have so far not shown erionite's toxicity. Whether the cause is erionite's shape, some aspect of its surface reactivity, its resistant to dissolution in fluids in the lung, or some combination of these, is not known.
Originally posted by kro32
Everything causes cancer nowadays so really no point in worrying about it.
I'm sure there are many people that use those roads who have lived into old age but if they are proven to be bad than just redo them. Not that hard to tear up a road and redo it.
What is the next step?
The NDDoH, in cooperation with EPA, will be conducting further investigations to assess the health effects of erionite exposure in North Dakota. In addition, the NDDoH is working with counties and businesses to restrict further use of gravel containing erionite and is exploring various dust control measures for effectiveness and cost. Guidance plans also are being developed to help businesses and homeowners limit erionite exposure.
How do people protect themselves from possible exposure to erionite?
The extent of the erionite exposure in western North Dakota is unknown, but given the inherently toxic nature of the material, reducing exposure is recommended. Where found, erionite should not be disturbed. Mining should be prohibited in specific areas. Recommendations for county highway departments, businesses and private landowners include finding alternative sources of gravel and limiting or eliminating exposure to erionite fibers.