2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 2:15 PM


MICHAUD, Jayne, Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W, 5204G, Washington, DC 20460, VAN GOSEN, Bradley S., U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 905, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225 and HATCHER, Michael T., Environmental Medicine and Education Services Branch, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 1600 Clifton Rd, Mail Stop F32, Atlanta, GA 30333, Michaud.Jayne@epamail.epa.gov

The USGS is currently mapping the locations of historic asbestos mines, historic asbestos prospects, and natural asbestos occurrences in the United States. These asbestos occurrences range from rocks that contain small amounts of the asbestos minerals as natural impurities to large asbestos ore bodies that were once mined for commercial and industrial uses. If naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) is disturbed and fibers are released into the air, then there is a potential risk to human health. As land that contains NOA is excavated and developed, the risk for environmental exposures increases.

Airborne asbestos could become a health hazard in areas identified to contain NOA-bearing rock, especially where these rocks are exposed to natural weathering and human activities (excavation of natural outcroppings). The USGS map and database will allow State and local governments and the public at large to be aware of the distribution of known asbestos deposits and take appropriate precautionary measures if and when necessary.

When publishing and releasing information about natural asbestos it is important to understand how this information will be used and received by stakeholders. The ultimate goal of communicating the hazards associated with natural asbestos is to prevent dispersion of NOA into the environment through human activities, and thus help prevent or greatly reduce human exposure and potential asbestos-related disease. Miscommunication can lead to unnecessary alarm at one extreme to possible minimization of the potential hazards at the other.

This presentation will describe an interagency communication and education strategy for dealing with naturally occurring asbestos on a National level. We will discuss the overarching messages and content that target audiences need to understand in order to manage natural asbestos and protect public health. The authors' lessons learned thus far will be shared with the audience.