The location of a now-demolished blue asbestos mill and mine is being described is seeing 10 new cases of mesothelioma a year, which a local physician is describing as “wiping out entire families.”
Residents recall mounds of asbestos fibers nearby the mill, which have gone on to cause illness not only in mill workers but in the overall community. Some inhabitants of the area describe dusting asbestos off of their fruits and vegetables and eating them.
The government in South Africa is being criticized for not doing enough to clean up the remaining asbestos in the area. As time goes on asbestos will not decay or decompose, it will remain until it is removed entirely. This increases the likelihood of “non-occupational exposure” to this toxic material. For decades, asbestos was of great economic benefit to South Africa, but is now causing what is being referred to as a “national environmental emergency.”
Any environment when asbestos has been disturbed, or like in this case, left in the open, can lead to exposure. The inhalation of these fibers is directly related to cancer. Locations which see a wide exposure due to the environment can have a startlingly high rate of asbestos cancer across the population.
Source: Mesothelioma News Center, “Blue Asbestos Leaves Legacy of Death in South African Town,” Aug. 13, 2012
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