Is Mother Nature Really Out To Get Us?
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.