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El Dorado California faces asbestos hazards

SACRAMENTO – Residents and government officials are growing increasingly anxious about possible asbestos risks for one California town. While asbestos is found in 44 of California’s 58 counties, increasing development in one town is literally causing a stir.

In the western United States, most asbestos is found embedded in Serpentine and is relatively safe.

However with increased development and construction, more and more fibers are being released into the air.
El Dorado located in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains about 20 miles from Sacramento is a scenic town of about 31,000 residents. In 2005 following community concerns, the EPA conducted a study to examine asbestos levels. While the fibers are not generally of commercial grade (the kind linked to lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma) they are still potent in high concentrations.

The main concern is that clouds of dust raised by construction crews and children playing in parks may be disturbing naturally occurring fibers into the air. The report and further statements from the EPA suggest that they need more time to study possible affects.

The main concern is that asbestos near the ground surface often contains tremolite which is a more toxic form. While the EPA’s goal is to minimize exposure risk for residents and workers, they have not come to any firm conclusions or plans for the bustling community.

In 2005 a preliminary EPA study raised concerns and was later contradicted by a private corporate study that claimed asbestos was not being released at all. The studies have raised a number of questions and a final EPA report is due in 2007.