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Asbestos Exposure

Category Press Release
Publish Date 8/4/2015
Author Paul Cochrane
Title California Residents Cautioned to Avoid Exposure Risks Associated with Natural Occurrences of Asbestos
Introduction LA Testing provides asbestos testing services to identify its presence from both manmade environments and due to naturally occurring asbestos.

Garden Grove, CA, August 4th, 2015

California is home to approximately 1 out of every 8 Americans and it is the third largest state by area covering over 160,000 square miles. Its large and diverse landscape includes many geological formations that contain deposits of natural occurrences of asbestos (NOA). According to the EPA fact sheet called “Atlas Asbestos Mine Superfund Site”, the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) in California contains the largest deposit of asbestos in the United States. NOA has also been documented in at least 35 U.S. states.

The term naturally-occurring asbestos refers to the mineral as a natural component of soils or rocks as opposed to asbestos in commercial products, mining or processing operations. NOA can be released from rocks or soils by routine human activities or natural weathering processes.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reports that asbestos is commonly found in ultramafic rock and near fault zones. The amount of asbestos typically present in these rocks ranges from less than 1% up to about 25%, and sometimes more. According to the ATSDR map titled “NOA Locations in the Contiguous USA and Alaska and the 100 Fastest Growing U.S. Counties”, 44 out of 58 counties in California have documented occurrences of NOA.

If NOA are not disturbed and fibers are not released into the air, then it is not a health risk. However, people can be exposed to it through activities that crush asbestos-containing rock or stir up dust in soils that contain asbestos fibers. The following are a few examples of activities that could create exposure risks in areas with natural occurrences of asbestos:
  • Working in a yard or garden
  • Digging or shoveling dirt
  • Riding bicycles, off-road vehicles or driving on unpaved surfaces
  • Running or hiking on unpaved surfaces
According to the California Department of Conservation, “Chrysotile and amphibole asbestos (such as tremolite) occur naturally in certain geologic settings in California, most commonly in association with ultramafic rocks and along associated faults. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and inhalation of asbestos may result in the development of lung cancer or mesothelioma.”

One of California’s premier asbestos testing laboratories, LA Testing, which is certified by the CA Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) for asbestos analysis, helps to identify exposure hazards across the state. “Any time rocks that contain asbestos are broken, crushed or disturbed they could be creating a hazardous situation for anyone in the area,” said Michael Chapman, Laboratory Manager of LA Testing’s Garden Grove facility. “Fortunately, environmental testing can quickly determine if asbestos is present and there are management approaches to help mitigate these types of exposure risks. This is especially important for industries, such as construction, that involve earth moving activities.”

LA Testing recently sponsored an educational video about natural occurrences of asbestos and exposure risks that can be seen at:
To learn more about asbestos testing services or other environmental, health and safety issues, please visit, email or call (800) 755-1794.


About LA Testing

LA Testing is California’s leading laboratory for indoor air quality testing of asbestos, mold, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash and smoke damage, particulates and other substances.  In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the general public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: AIHA LAP LLC., AIHA ELLAP, AIHA EMLAP and AIHA IHLAP, CDC ELITE, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health and other states.  LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Garden Grove, San Leandro and San Diego.

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