A recent report released by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) includes a map and database that identifies 61 areas within the Rocky Mountain region where natural asbestos and fibrous amphibole deposits have been found.
A press release by the USGS reports that "this map is the third in a series aimed at providing a better understanding of the geographic distribution of the geologic environments in which asbestos formed across the nation."
USGS Director Mark Myers added: "Due to considerable interest in this compilation effort, the first of its kind, the USGS will continue to update information on asbestos localities. The series has already proven to have applications for the public health, geologic, and environmental communities."
The new map includes the states of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Unlike previously released maps, this new series of maps identifies the specific types of asbestos present in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States.
"Previous regional to national scale maps do not describe the specific types of asbestos reported at many locations (for example chrysotile versus different amphibole asbestos varieties)," the press release noted. "This map identifies different types of asbestos and asbestiform minerals, but does not attempt to distinguish between substances that may or may not pose a risk to human health."
The occurrence of natural asbestos has become a growing concern due to the potential exposures that may result, caused by human activity that disturbs the rocks, including the building of homes and commercial structures.