Federal Asbestos Agencies: U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS),
Department of the Interior
USGS conducts research on asbestos minerals through its Earth Materials and Human Health Project in Denver, Colorado. Deleterious forms of asbestos can occur at minor to trace (non-commercial) levels in many geologic environments. There is growing concern that dusts containing trace asbestiform minerals that are liberated from these geologic materials by natural weathering or human activities may also pose a significant health hazard. In spite of decades of research, many aspects of asbestos and fibrous minerals are poorly understood, including: the processes by which mineral fibers trigger cancer; whether non-asbestiform but needle-like minerals also cause cancer; the distribution and natural background level of asbestiform minerals in dusts from various geologic environments; how mineralogical and geochemical properties of asbestos minerals influence health effects; and how recent earth science technologies can be applied to understand asbestos health issues. In collaboration with human health experts, the USGS Earth Materials and Human Health Project will develop and apply a variety of earth science methods to interpret the geologic links between mineral dusts and human health problems. The project’s scientific results will provide a sound earth science basis for more informed, effective regulatory policies and remediation strategies.
Courtesy of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency