Originally Posted by DaveyDIY
It's also my understanding that the older stuff had asbestos in it?
Asbestos has been used in everything from plaster to toothpaste.
Did you know that asbestos is still being used in automotive brake pads and shoes? It's true. Years ago they banned asbestos in most products, but there was a baby squabble between the various government departments, all of which have some jurisdiction on what gets put into cars that drive on public highways, and the spat hasn't been resolved, so any legislation concerning the use of asbestos in automotive brake shoes has been in limbo since the 1980's. GM used asbestos in the brake shoes of their new Chevrolet Cavaliers and Pontiac Sunbirds up to as recently as 2002. Most American brake shoe manufacturers have stopped using asbestos in their brakes shoes, but the offshore manufacturers in China, Taiwan and Malaysia still use it in their brake shoes, including those that they export to North America.
Asbestos in Automobiles | Mesothelioma & Other Health Risks
Did you know that the airborne asbestos fiber content in the State parks around San Fransisco has been measured to be fifty (50) times higher than would be allowed in a workplace without the workers having to wear special dust masks to protect them from asbestos fibers.
Asbestos is one of the most abundant minerals in the Earth's crust and there are places on this Earth where there are large outcroppings of serpentine rock right at the surface. This is both the State Rock of California, and the rock with the highest naturally occuring asbestos fiber content. Essentially all of California has asbestos bearing rock right at the surface. It was these rocks that were crushed to make the gravel roads through the state parks in California, and when cars drove over those roads the rocks would grind against each other under the weight of the tires, releasing huge clouds of dust full of asbestos fibers. California went from allowing up to 50% of this rock in the gravel used for roads, to 5 percent, and then down to 0.1 percent as the air quality measurements were taken.
This web page:
California Mesothelioma, Asbestos Cancer, & Asbestos Exposure Risks
relates the results of studies done by the California EPA into asbestos exposure in the very affluent "El Dorado Hills" area in El Dorado County in California which was built right on top of a large naturally occuring asbestos deposit:
"In February 2002, during the constructions of two new soccer fields at the community's Oak Ridge High School, veins of minerals bearing asbestos were discovered. When a citizen petitioned the EPA to test for asbestos, the EPA decided to assess the threat of NOA (Naturally Occuring Asbestos) in the area - regardless of strong opposition from some civic leaders in El Dorado Hills. In October 2004, donning protective white jumpsuits and safety respirators, EPA agents played in parks as local children would, tossing balls, kicking soccer balls around, biking and running - all the while taking air samples. More than 450 air samples were taken throughout the community, and in May 2005 the EPA released its findings. Almost every one of the samples contained asbestos fibers. Oddly enough, the EPA didn't feel it necessary to detail the results, as the report does not specify the toxicity level of samples, nor does it clearly quantify the potential health risks to residents. Instead, the report simply states that test results and exposure levels are "of concern."
That web page goes on to talk about one of the large nature preserves in California that just happens to be located in one of the largest naturally occuring asbestos deposits in the world:
"Another location of EPA focus in California is the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA), an enormous and extremely popular area of recreational land. Geologists are not surprised by the EPA's concern for the area, as CCMA is located on one of the world's largest naturally occurring asbestos deposits. Each year, thousands of visitors enjoy CCMA's scenic landscape, rugged terrain, barren slopes, bald ridges, and unique ecology. The 70,000-acre area encompasses a 30,000-acre deposit of serpentine rock, and holds a rich history in the mining industry. In September 2004, the EPA began the first of four sampling events at CCMA.
Sporting protective clothing, safety respirators, and air monitoring equipment, crews of federal contractors and the U.S. Coast Guard's Pacific Strike Team took air samples while riding ATVs and dirt bikes, hiking, driving SUVs, pitching tents, and other common activities guests enjoy at CCMA. When compared to health standards, test results revealed recreational users of the management area are exposed to "very high" levels of asbestos. The EPA's website states samples taken in November 2004 and February 2005 are currently being analyzed, and that a final report will be released after the final sampling event (which was scheduled for July 2006). Though 2008 has arrived, no final report or updated information has been made available by the EPA."
It would be funny to think of EPA officials playing with a frisbee in city parks and hiking along mountain trails, all while wearing moon suits to protect them from the asbestos in the air if it weren't also so $%&#ing scary.
The bottom line here is that very many of us live in areas where there are outcrops of naturally occuring asbestos bearing rock and we're exposed to high levels of the stuff every time we go outside. It affects some of us more than others, and there's no way of telling who is most susceptible to contracting mesothelioma from exposure to airborne asbestos fibers.
People who live in the area of the Great Lakes are also exposed to asbestos in the ground, which is carried into the rivers and then into the lakes. Residents of Duluth, Minnesota, which gets it's water from Lake Michigan (I think) swallow 7,000 asbestos fibers in every glass of tap water they drink. Perhaps it's a good thing that we're not aware of any health effects of swallowing asbestos fibers... yet.