07/15/2010 // Modesto, California, USA // Mesothelioma News Now! // California Mesothelioma Reporter
In 1965, serpentine was named the official state rock of the state of California because it symbolized the Gold Rush years and contained a mineral that was used in many industrial arenas.
Almost fifty years later, the true facts of that mineral – asbestos — have emerged including the highly dangerous after effects of asbestos inhalation. In light of these realizations, one California lawmaker wants serpentine stripped of its ‘state rock’ status.
Asbestos, which is no longer mined in the United States, can cause an incurable cancer called mesothelioma as well as other diseases when its fibers are inhaled.
“This is a question of health and public awareness,” said Democratic state Sen. Gloria Romero of Los Angeles, who proposed the new legislation. “We know that California has the highest rates of mesothelioma deaths in the nation and we don’t think it’s appropriate to be celebrating as the state rock something which contains asbestos.”
Romero’s proposal to do away with serpentine, a pretty jade-green rock, as the state rock is budding a great deal of opposition from geologists and industry advocates. Many feel serpentine is being unfairly criticized, and have taken to social media sites to voice their opinions.
“The rock is an ideal symbol for our state,” said Garry Hayes, a Modesto Community College geology teacher. “The asbestos issue is there, but it’s a small part of what serpentine is.”
Serpentine is found throughout the nations, from coast to coast, but is particularly abundant in the same areas where gold was discovered in California. In the 1960s, the state was increasingly mined for its asbestos, which was often was used in construction.
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