Is Mother Nature Really Out To Get Us?

Posted by on July 6, 2010 under Legal, Updates. This post currently has 2 responses.

The state legislature is about to pass a bill, SB624, declaring that Serpentine be removed as a state rock. It goes on to cite unscientific facts about the rock being carcinogenic. See ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES and the editorial in today’s newspaper.

This is a slippery slope and could result in even more closures. The text of SB624 declares that serpentine contains chrysotile asbestos and that exposure increases the risk of cancer mesothelioma.

As stated in a letter to the editor from John M. Stoiz, civil engineer: “This is a non-fact. Serpentine is a general name given to magnesium iron phyllosilicate minerals, and it can refer to any of twenty varieties. There are three polymorphs (or kinds) of serpentine: antigorite, chrysotile and lizardite, but only chrysotile contains asbestos”.

California has Serpentine everywhere, but no elevated disease rates from living here. There is no evidence that outdoor recreation exposure has any effect on human health. Our nonscientific state legislators are confusing daily worker exposure to processed asbestos in various products such as home insulation, insulation on ship’s boilers and insulated wiring with exposure to asbestos contained in the structure of naturally occurring rock.

The Blue Ribbon Coalition has reported extensively about the closure of Clear Creek OHV Park due to supposedly cancer causing asbestos contained in Serpentine. “Paul Turcke, BRC attorney and lead counsel for the recreation groups, states, ‘The BLM has previously and extensively studied the ‘asbestos issue’ and has properly concluded the naturally occurring short-fibered Coalinga chrysotile asbestos presents little or no risk to human health. Specifically, the size and nature of the particles in question allow them to be expunged from the lungs or broken down by natural body processes and rendered harmless. There is no bona fide emergency which justifies this drastic and hastily-reached decision.”

“According to a recent declaration provided by a respected scientist, this form of asbestos is innocuous and should be considered only a nuisance dust. Unfortunately, the “one fiber will kill you” zealots choose not to differentiate between different forms of asbestos…”

“The simple fact is that asbestos-related disease does not show up in any of these populations. Period.” – Don Amador.

Scientific facts to not sway our legislature in their quest to keep people from enjoying the great outdoors. The seemingly innocuous removal of Serpentine as a state rock has numerous implications. I have a sample in my rock collection and I have suffered no ill effects even though it is part of a mineral collection that has been in my bedroom for decades.

2 Responses to “Is Mother Nature Really Out To Get Us?”

  1. Diana Tweedy says:

    In an article entitled California May Drop Its Rock And Geologists Feel The Pain, the New York Times reports that geologists both in state and outside are outraged because Serpentine is harmless and is being demonized by advocates for people with asbestos related disease and possibly their lawyers too. The bill has passed the full senate and is awaiting a vote in the assembly. Geologists say asbestos occurs naturally in many minerals and some serpentine rocks do serve as a host for chrysotile, a form of asbestos. Geologists say that chrysotile is less harmful than other forms of asbestos and a person would have to be breathing its dust repeatedly for it to be considered harmful. Consumer lawyers back this bill. Scientists and other opponents of the bill are fighting it. It appears that asbestos litigation attorneys and their advocates are behind this totally stupid bill. They say they are trying to pass it to educate people about the hazards of asbestos, but geologists and scientists say that serpentine is harmless unless you spend your days breaking it up with a sledge hammer year after year. Check out Twitter identifying phrase #CASerpentine to read what scientists are saying.

  2. Diana Tweedy says:

    An article in the San Francisco Chronicle today, July 16, 2010 entitled State rock in middle of dustup over mineral describes the disagreement between Senator Romero who has introduced SB624, which would strip serpentine of its title of state rock, and geologists and scientists who are rallying to the rock’s defense. The campaign to drop the rock was actually started by Linda Reinstein, the co-founder of Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, whose husband died of mesothelioma. “John Sullivan, the president of the Civil Justice Association of California, has accused trial lawyers of hatching up a fiendish plot to file more asbestos lawsuits by ruining the reputation of the rock,” according to the article. Geologists, mineral collectors and fans of natural history are fighting this effort to strip serpentine of its title as state rock.

Leave a Reply