Strictly speaking, all asbestos fibers are naturally occurring. They’re mineral fibers mined, processed, and incorporated into thousands of products. Asbestos fibers can be found in rock formations across Kentucky. You should be cautious if you’re breaking up or disturbing rocks in your backyard or as part of your job because you may release cancer-causing asbestos fibers into the air.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of fibrous minerals naturally occurring in rock formations. Its fibers are too small to be seen by the naked eye. They’re extremely strong and durable, don’t dissolve in water, and resist fire, heat, electricity, and chemicals. These properties make them ideal to use in a wide range of products.
When fibers become airborne, they can be inhaled or swallowed by anyone in the area. Your body’s immune system probably won’t be able to break them all down or destroy them. Instead, they may remain stuck in your lungs or other organs for years or decades. They may cause inflammation and genetic changes to nearby tissue that result in cancer tumors, including mesothelioma.
What is Naturally Occurring Asbestos?
Naturally occurring asbestos are fibrous minerals found in rocks or soil and released into the air by human activities (like breaking or crushing asbestos-containing stones) or weathering processes. If it’s not disturbed and fibers aren’t released, there’s no health risk, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
Asbestos is often found in ultramafic rock, such as serpentine rock, and near fault zones. Typically, these rocks may be from less than 1% to 25% asbestos.
How Do I Find Out If Rocks Contain Asbestos?
The only way to find out for sure is to have them professionally tested by a lab that processes asbestos samples.
How Could I Endanger Myself and Others?
If rocks and soil in the area contain asbestos, the ATSDR states there are several ways you could release fibers into the air:
- Working in a garden
- Digging or shoveling dirt
- Sweeping or leaf-blowing
- Plowing or planting
- Excavating or using a backhoe
- Rock drilling or using a jackhammer
- Driving over unpaved surfaces
- Walking or running on gravel roads
- Running underground cable or pipe
- Disturbing dirt on unpaved surfaces
- Felling trees in contaminated dirt
- Blasting, chipping, hammering, drilling, crushing, loading, hauling, and dumping rock
- Working in railroad or highway construction or maintenance
- Operating heavy equipment where the soil contains asbestos fibers
Given how virtually anything you do with dirt or rocks could be a problem, you should have soil and stones professionally tested if you have any concerns about naturally occurring asbestos.
Where is Naturally Occurring Asbestos Located?
The US Geological Survey (USGS) mapped where in the US substantial outcroppings occur. Their map of the central US shows no known naturally occurring asbestos in Kentucky. The neared locations are in southeastern Missouri, western Virginia, and western North Carolina.
The heaviest concentrations of naturally occurring asbestos generally run the length of the Appalachian Mountains and are in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and the North and South Coast Ranges.
Call Us Today For A Free Consultation
Those diagnosed with asbestos-related illness may be entitled to compensation for what they’ve endured. Satterley & Kelley, PLLC attorneys are your boots on the ground if you or a family members suffers from mesothelioma or an asbestos-related health condition in Kentucky. You can reach our Louisville office by calling us 855-385-9532. You can also complete our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.