The Arizona Geological Survey (AGS) reports that there is no evidence of asbestos associated with mining operations in the Agua Fria River bed. The AGS was called in to investigate and explore the area because the Maricopa County Mining District Recommendation Committee worried that sand and gravel mines may be sending asbestos into the air.
According to an article in the Arizona Republic, Mimi Diaz of the AGS told members of the committee last week that six kinds of minerals that form long, fibrous crystals fall into the category of asbestos and “not all are bad and cause lung cancer.” Absolutely none of those crystals was found in the Agua Fria basin, she added.
One member of the committee said that area residents are concerned that mining companies are crushing used concrete that might contain asbestos. There are more than 20 mining operations in the Agua Fria, which is near communities such as Surprise and Sun City.
“Any time you demolish a building, you have to do an asbestos survey,” said board Chairman Frank Mendola. “If you find it, it has to be removed from the building and the material is sent to an asbestos landfill.”
Diaz explained that when companies manufacture concrete, it is generally transported to a building site within 20 miles because of the expensive cost of trucking it. So, if there no asbestos in the Agua Fria, the concrete from it is clean, she said.
“People who have gotten sick off asbestos had an occupational exposure to it,” Diaz said. “They are the ones who are sick, not the ones who drive by it or live by it.”
Arizona has a fairly low rate of asbestos deaths, coming in at number 31 of the 50 states in number of asbestos-related deaths annually.