Federal study: Georgia has most asbestos in the Eastern US

Published: Aug. 2, 2005 at 6:52 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2005 at 1:56 AM EDT
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(Atlanta-AP) August 2, 2005 - The US Geologic Survey says Georgia has more naturally occurring asbestos sites than any other state on the East Coast, but geologists say residents probably don't have much to fear.

A study published last month by the agency listed 52 places in Georgia where there is natural asbestos, a carcinogen that can cause lung disease. The study found a total of 324 asbestos locations from Alabama to Maine, with a stretch of mountains along the Georgia-North Carolina border having some of the highest concentrations.

Georgia had 17 asbestos locations at former asbestos mines, and another 26 sites at former asbestos prospecting spots. Almost all the sites are now private property.

Asbestos is a generic term referring to a group of silicate minerals that form long, thin fibers once used in fire-resistant materials. When crushed, those fiber bundles can separate and damage human lungs, so asbestos is no longer mined in the US.

The survey noted that naturally occurring asbestos may be linked to higher cancer rates in a Montana town where asbestos was once mined.

A retired geology professor at the University of Georgia, Jilles Allard, said he wouldn't worry about asbestos that occurs naturally. He says it becomes a carcinogen when crushed by people.

Posted 2:48pm by Bryce Mursch