Published July 10, 2005
You may have heard recent reports of
naturally-occurring asbestos found in the Folsom hills... what
could potentially be a valid health scare. Is the asbestos concern
in this area valid, or has it turned into a media frenzy as a ploy
to minimize growth? As a former environmental consultant and current
author and Realtorģ, I feel more than compelled to answer
Let me start by answering the basic question; what exactly is
asbestos? Asbestos is the name of a group of highly fibrous minerals
with separable, long, and thin fibers (Figure 1). That doesnít sound
so bad, why all the fuss over some fibers? Well, asbestos may be
thin, but they are very durable. So durable in fact that they find
their way into lung tissue and remain there for a long time. When
asbestos infects the lung tissue it can cause asbestosis,
mesothelioma, and cancer.
Certainly from the previous description you donít want asbestos
anywhere near your lungs. According to the Air Quality Management
District, asbestos fibers occur naturally in the soil in 44 of
California's 58 counties; and Sacramento County is on the list. So,
where are all these asbestos fibers hiding? Asbestos is present in
serpentine and ultramafic rock. Specifically in Folsom, asbestos was
first discovered during soil tests at the proposed
Lago Vista High School site in
the Empire Ranch area. Of course,
upon the discovery of asbestos in Folsom, the city and Elliot Homes
took the appropriate measures to address the problem.
This problem leaves the average home buyer and seller confused. What
are my consequences, relating to asbestos, if I buy a home or sell a
house in Folsom? Well, for starters, let me state that the asbestos
levels found so far do not constitute an imminent health threat.
However, naturally occurring asbestos has been confirmed, so
minimizing the release of fibers should be of paramount importance.
So, what can you as a resident of Folsom do to minimize the release
of such fibers? For starters, donít drive, jog, or use heavy
equipment on unpaved roads containing serpentine rock. Driving on
unpaved roads lifts the asbestos fibers out of the ground which
increases the chance of the fibers finding their way to your lungs.
Also, be sure to wipe your shoes off outside, before coming indoors.
As a supplement to this practice, keep your floors mopped often.
Since children often play outside and get dirty, it is especially
important to tell them to take off their shoes prior to entering
your house and wash their hands if they are dirty. When digging in
your yard, keep an eye out for rocks such as the rock featured in
All of this information is not meant to scare the average homeowner
in Folsom. The scientists and engineers in the area are working on
gathering enough information to draw a logical conclusion, as for
now, there are many questions unanswered. However, as a former
environmental consultant and current Realtorģ, I can
assure you the necessary steps are being made to protect human
health and the environment. Feel free to e-mail me any questions or
concerns regarding this topic.