Asbestos mines in South Africa

A colleague conducted field studies of contamination in communities near the asbestos mines and mills in four province of South Africa under a contract from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. I reviewed his study protocols and progress reports and also provided support for analysis of air, soil and building material samples by laboratories in the US. The exposure of residents in villages adjacent to the mines, where asbestos mills and disposal sites were also located, was evaluated on the basis of over 2,000 bulk samples collected by commnity activists trained for this study. A risk analysis model in the study report prioritizes remediation of the sites. Another study objective was to develop and validate a method of evaluating soil contamination by visual examination consistent with the limited analytical resources of South Africa and less-developed countries.

Tailings piles -- Photo by Rob Jones