AUTC project number: RR08.14
Robert A. Perkins
Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) occurs in mineral deposits in Alaska. Some localities in Alaska do not have gravel sources that are NOA-free, which impacts the cost of heavy construction projects such as roads and airports. Because airborne asbestos fibers are a significant human health risk, mining and industrial use of asbestos is rare in the United States. Disposition of existing asbestos materials in industry and buildings is tightly regulated by federal and state authorities. The use of NOA is not regulated by federal agencies or most states. Determining if NOA can be safely used in heavy construction materials and what can or should be done with NOA materials that are already in place are complex questions. The ultimate answer depends on propensity for the NOA in each scenario to actually release asbestos fibers that may be inhaled by humans, which in turn depends on the amount and type of asbestos mineral, how it is handled in processing, and how it is maintained. Practical analysis of this depends on laboratory analysis, as well as regulation or control of operations. Implementation of these requires stakeholder education and cooperation and agency oversight.