California Reconsiders State Symbol Associated with Chrysotile Asbestos
For more than 40 years, California’s official state rock has been serpentine, a greenish gray rock linked to the state’s gold rush.
But serpentine is a primary source of asbestos, a mineral fiber that causes serious respiratory disease in humans including mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Chrysotile asbestos, the most widely used commercial form of asbestos, comes from serpentine
Because asbestos is a human carcinogen and California has the highest rate of mesothelioma deaths in the nation, a California lawmaker has filed legislation to strip serpentine of its status as an official state symbol and make a statement of findings about the increased risk of mesothelioma associated with chrysotile asbestos.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, says, “Serpentine contains the deadly mineral chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen… California should not designate a rock known to be toxic to the health of its residents as the state’s official rock.”
The California Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday approved the legislation, stripping serpentine of its official designation and sent the bill to the Assembly floor for consideration. An earlier version of Romero’s bill previously passed the California Senate.