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Part 1: Is there another lesser-known culprit causing mesothelioma?

In the previous post, we saw how exposure to asbestos can lead to a disease known as mesothelioma. But recently concern has been raised over another mineral that may also cause mesothelioma: erionite.

While not a commonly known mineral, erionite is thought to be present in a number of different states in the U.S. Is this a cause for concern for Americans? How is erionite thought to be connected to mesothelioma? What would this potentially mean for those who have been exposed to this mineral?

Apparently news of this cancer-causing mineral first reached the U.S. in the 1970s. There had been reports that a number of villagers in Turkey were stricken with mesothelioma. But it was believed that the disease was not caused by asbestos exposure in this particular case. Instead, fingers pointed to the use of erionite-rich soil that was used to build the homes in the villages.

Though the epidemic in Turkey raised some eyebrows, it wasn't until recently that concerns were sparked. There is evidence of erionite deposits in several states and because it is unregulated, people who live and work in those areas may be affected.

In response, several different federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety are meeting to address the potential issues that could arise from the erionite deposits. The meeting will also discuss what steps should be taken regarding public awareness.

But is this something that Americans should be worried about? How can erionite affect people? Are there other examples that can validate the possible connection between erionite and mesothelioma?

Source: MSNBC: "Health concerns grow over little-known mineral," Myron Levin, Oct. 7, 2011

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