California to Repeal Designated State Rock Due to Mesothelioma-Causing Asbestos
Many people may not have been aware that Serpentine is California’s state rock, and soon enough it may not matter. The California State Assembly Committee on Natural Resources has approved a resolution to repeal the state rock because it contains asbestos, known to cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other diseases.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen and is proven to cause mesothelioma, a serious cancer caused by breathing in the asbestos fibers that then become lodged in the thin membrane that lines and encases the lungs. Often called “asbestos cancer,” mesothelioma is highly aggressive and is resistant to many standard cancer treatments. Currently there is no known cure for mesothelioma, and the average survival time varies from 4 – 18 months after diagnosis.
Senator Gloria Romero (D – East Los Angeles), the bill’s sponsor said, “California should not designate a rock known to be toxic to the health of its residents.” Romero went on to say that California has the most mesothelioma deaths in the nation, further emphasizing that “toxic materials have no place serving as emblems for the State.”
Serpentine, a shiny, smooth, olive green rock found throughout California, was named the official State Rock in 1965. Serpentinite can contain chrysotile, the serpentine mineral that crystallizes in long, thin fibers commonly known as asbestos. The rock was mined and used for purposes such as railway ballasts, building materials, and in insulation.
Although asbestos has been banned in over 50 countries, it is still not banned in the United States.
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization started the “Drop the Rock” campaign in an effort to encourage California to repeal the currently designated state rock.