Erionite: An Emerging North American Hazard

Erionite is a naturally occurring mineral that belongs to a group of silicate minerals called zeolites. It is usually found in volcanic ash that has been altered by weathering and ground water. Like naturally occurring asbestos, deposits are present in many Western states (see map). Erionite can occur in a fibrous form. Disturbance of this material can generate airborne fibers with physical properties and health effects similar to asbestos. For example, it has long been known that residents of some Turkish villages where erionite-containing rock was used to construct homes have a remarkably high risk for development of malignant mesothelioma.

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