Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cancer-causing mineral found in U.S. road gravel: Erionite in roads may increase risk of mesothelioma

Date:
July 26, 2011
Source:
University of Hawaii Cancer Center
Summary:
Vehicles traveling along gravel roads in Dunn County, North Dakota stir up clouds of dust containing high levels of the mineral erionite. Those who breathe in the air every day are at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, new research shows. Erionite shares similar physical similarities with asbestos and when airborne, its fibers can lodge in people's lungs. Over time, the embedded fibers can lead to mesothelioma, a lung cancer most often associated with asbestos.

Car on gravel road. As cars and buses drive down the gravel roads in Dunn County, North Dakota, they stir up more than dirt. The clouds of dust left in their wake contain such high levels of the mineral erionite that those who breathe in the air every day are at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, a type of cancer of the membranes around the lungs, new research shows.
Credit: Artur Shevel / Fotolia

As school buses drive down the gravel roads in Dunn County, North Dakota, they stir up more than dirt. The clouds of dust left in their wake contain such high levels of the mineral erionite that those who breathe in the air every day are at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, a type of cancer of the membranes around the lungs, new research shows. Erionite is a natural mineral fiber that shares similar physical similarities with asbestos. When it's disturbed by human activity, fibers can become airborne and lodge themselves in people's lungs. Over time, the embedded fibers can make cells of the lung grow abnormally, leading to mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer most often associated with the related mineral asbestos.

Related Articles


Michele Carbone, M.D., Ph.D., director of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center in Honolulu, has previously linked erionite exposure in some Turkish villages to unusually high rates of mesothelioma. Recently, he and colleagues turned their attention to potential erionite exposure in the U.S., where at least 12 states have erionite-containing rock deposits. His research team -- which includes scientists from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Environmental Protection Agency, New York University, University of Chicago, University of Iowa, and University of Hacettepe -- focused their efforts on Dunn County, North Dakota, when they learned that rocks containing erionite have been used to produce gravel for the past 30 years. More than 300 miles of roads are now paved with the gravel.

The new study, reported in the July 25, 2011 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is the first to look at the potential hazards associated with erionite exposure in the U.S.

The scientists compared the erionite in North Dakota to erionite from the Turkish villages with high mesothelioma rates. They measured airborne concentrations of the mineral in various settings, studied its chemical composition, and analyzed its biological activity. When mice were injected with the erionite from Dunn County, their lungs showed signs of inflammation and abnormal cell growth, precursors to mesothelioma. Under the microscope, the fiber size of the erionite from North Dakota was similar to that of the Turkish erionite. Overall, the researchers found no chemical differences between the North Dakota erionite and samples of the cancer-causing mineral from Turkey. The airborne levels of erionite in North Dakota were comparable to levels found in Turkish villages with 6-8 percent mortality rates from mesothelioma, the researchers reported.

"Based on the similarity between the erionite from the two sources," says Carbone, "there is concern for increased risk of mesothelioma in North Dakota." The long latency period of the disease -- it can take 30 to 60 years of exposure to cause mesothelioma -- and the fact that many erionite deposits have only been mined in the past few decades suggests that the number of cases could soon be on the rise. In addition to North Dakota, California, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada and other states have erionite deposit, but the possibility of human exposure elsewhere in the U.S. has not yet been investigated.

In contrast to asbestos, which causes mesothelioma at lower rates, there are no established health benchmarks in the U.S. on safe levels of erionite exposure, because until recently, physicians thought that erionate was present only in Turkey. The new findings, however, indicate that precautionary measures should be put in place to reduce exposure to the mineral, says Carbone. In Turkey, his earlier findings led to moving villagers away from areas with high levels of erionite, into new housing built out of erionite-free materials. "Our findings provide an opportunity to implement novel preventive and detection programs in the U.S. similar to what we have been doing in Turkey," he says. Future studies could analyze erionite levels in other areas of the U.S. and develop strategies to prevent and screen for mesothelioma. The study was funded through grants from the National Cancer Institute and the 2008 AACR-Landon Innovator Award for International Collaboration in Cancer Research to Michele Carbone.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Hawaii Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michele Carbone, Y. Izzettin Baris, Pietro Bertino, Brian Brass, Sabahattin Comertpay, A. Umran Dogan, Giovanni Gaudino, Sandro Jube, Shreya Kanodia, Charles R. Partridge, Harvey I. Pass, Zeyana S. Rivera, Ian Steele, Murat Tuncer, Steven Way, Haining Yang, and Aubrey Miller. Erionite exposure in North Dakota and Turkish villages with mesothelioma. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 25, 2011 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1105887108

Cite This Page:

University of Hawaii Cancer Center. "Cancer-causing mineral found in U.S. road gravel: Erionite in roads may increase risk of mesothelioma." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725162527.htm>.
University of Hawaii Cancer Center. (2011, July 26). Cancer-causing mineral found in U.S. road gravel: Erionite in roads may increase risk of mesothelioma. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725162527.htm
University of Hawaii Cancer Center. "Cancer-causing mineral found in U.S. road gravel: Erionite in roads may increase risk of mesothelioma." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725162527.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News

More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) The World Health Organizations says TB numbers rose in 2013, but it's partly due to better detection and more survivors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins