California has a killer state rock.
No, really. Its official state rock is serpentine which usually contains asbestos, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Late last night, by unanimous vote, the city council of Manhattan Beach passed a resolution asking the state to find a different, non-lethal hunk of rock to memorialize.
In 1965, serpentine was designated as the state rock of California in order to promote the then-lucrative asbestos mining industry. The last U.S. asbestos mines – in California and Vermont – were closed in 2002, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Manhattan Beach Mayor Portia Cohen thanked the council for its vote and added, “It is unthinkable to have serpentine as the State Rock of California when more than 7,000 people in our state alone have died from asbestos since 2007.”
The beach-front community is home to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, a national asbestos education and victim’s rights group. ADAO launched a “Drop the Rock” campaign urges statewide action to remove serpentine as the official rock.
The Manhattan Beach resolution represents the first official request to the California legislature to remove the rock.
Today, asbestos still kills,
Thousands of homes, schools and businesses still have asbestos-wrapped pipes, boilers and furnaces. Millions more have asbestos-contaminated vermiculite insulation in their walls and attics.
And as unbelievable as is sounds, thousands of asbestos-containing products – from toys to building supplies and automotive parts – enter the U.S. marketplace every year.
The lethality of asbestos has been painfully documented for years yet, Congress still lacks the will to legislate an effective ban on the deadly fibers as 40 other industrialized countries have done.
The one hazard that cannot be legislated away is naturally occurring asbestos, outcroppings of which the USGS has mapped throughout the country.
California is plagued by the problem.
The asbestos contained in the serpentine rock can be released when the rock is broken by soil disturbing activities such as mining, construction, and other land grading activities. Hundreds of new homes, schools and businesses have been built on this fiber-laced land.
“California has the dubious distinction of being the state with the highest recorded number of asbestos-related deaths and the death toll will continue until the United States Congress passes legislation banning asbestos,” said Linda Reinstein, ADAO’s executive director and co-founder.