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A surprising source of asbestos exposure: driving off road

Mesothelioma, a rare and often terminal form of cancer, is often linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos was used ubiquitously throughout the 20th century in construction due to its utility as insulation. Asbestos fibers are resistant to heat, fire and electricity.

Asbestos is also extremely dangerous to humans. The link between asbestos and mesothelioma has been well documented for a century. Workers in mining and construction have been particularly at risk to receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma.

However, a new study suggests that asbestos exposure may also come from a surprising source: off-roading. According to a new study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, dangerous levels of asbestos in dust may be present when driving an off-road vehicle near naturally occurring deposits of asbestos.

The study involved a comprehensive review of asbestos exposure and off-roading behavior across the country. According to researchers, a significant percentage of off-road trails are within 20 miles of asbestos deposits. This led researchers to conclude that people who frequently off-road near Appalachia, and mountain ranges throughout the West and Southwest, may be exposed to high levels of asbestos dust.

Further research needed

The authors of the study called for further research on the dangers of off-roading near asbestos mineral deposits. One study is not conclusive. Meanwhile, it is important that the public remains aware of the dangers of asbestos dust from every source, including the hazards posed by land and former mines known to have significant asbestos deposits.

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