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Guilt By Association


As if lawmakers in California didn't have enough to worry about, Gloria Romero, the Democratic majority leader of the California State Senate, introduced

As if lawmakers in California didn't have enough to worry about, Gloria Romero, the Democratic majority leader of the California State Senate, introduced legislation in May that would remove serpentine as California's state rock. The bill equates serpentine with asbestos.

Geologists have come out against it, saying serpentine is not asbestos. The Sacramento Bee reported that bill was intended as a symbolic gesture. The bill's language was provided by groups opposing asbestos, which are funded by law firms that litigate asbestos-related cases, the paper said. If the bill becomes state law, it would essentially define serpentine as asbestos.

The proposed legislation prompted this response from the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association.

ìNSSGA has always stood for the prevention of harmful exposure to asbestos. We supported federal legislation to ban asbestos that passed the Senate unanimously in the last Congress. We have endeavored to be sure that published peer-reviewed consensus science on definition and testing methods, which properly differentiate minerals, are used so that common rock-forming minerals are not inadvertently misidentified as dangerous asbestos. NSSGA also has recommended expansion of the definition of asbestos to include other asbestiform amphiboles. If rock that does not cause asbestos-related disease is misidentified as asbestos, the economic harm caused would be enormous without improving health risks.

ìAsbestosis and/or mesothelioma are not industrial diseases of the aggregates industry work force. Our goal, therefore, is to make sure banning asbestos does just that, but does not ban what is not asbestos. Test methods are able to identify and differentiate asbestos fiber from other fragments in the natural mixed dust environment.î