Health officials warn of asbestos dangers near mine

11/06/08 5:54PM By John Dillon

(Host) The state is warning people to stay away from an abandoned asbestos mine in Eden and Lowell because of potential health problems from asbestos exposure.

The Health Department recently completed a study to measure the health risks. Scientists looked at health records and death certificates from towns within 10 miles of the mine. They concluded that there was a statistically significant increase in two diseases: lung cancer and asbestosis.

Doctor Wendy Davis is state health commissioner.

(Davis) And what we found was a significant difference. In other words your risk of having those diagnoses or health outcomes was significantly higher if you lived within that 10 mile radius.

(Host) According to data from death certificates, the odds of dying from asbestosis are more than 12 times as high among people living close to the mine compared to people living further away from the mine. The risk of developing lung cancer was also higher.

A huge pile of waste rock containing asbestos remains at the site. The area is used by people riding all terrain vehicles. But Davis says people should stay away from the old mine.

(Davis) It becomes a problem for humans when we breathe in the fibers and we're more likely to breathe in the fibers when asbestos from any source is disturbed. So our best recommendation at this point would be number one stay away from the mine and don't undertake any activity if your in that area that would disturb those piles.

(Host) Davis said the state health study does not prove a cause and effect link between the asbestos mine and the lung disease. She says more study is needed, but the findings were significant enough to issue the warning.



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