Erionite in Auckland bedrock and malignant mesothelioma: an emerging public and occupational health hazard?
Asbestos-induced malignant mesothelioma (MM) is of worldwide concern but particularly in New Zealand. The highest mesothelioma incidence is in the construction and building trades. In addition, non-occupational asbestos induced MM for both men and women is of increasing concern. Studies report that New Zealand is one of a number of high-income countries with elevated incidence of MM (2.6 per 100,000), and that this is a direct result of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres in occupational settings. Indeed, recent reports have highlighted some tragic outcomes of the asbestos disease epidemic here. These include cases of how MM was apparently a consequence of exposure to asbestos in the home, following transfer of the asbestos fibres from the workplace. This was thought to have occurred on the hair and clothes of occupationally-exposed family members.
Erionite and malignant mesothelioma (MM)
Erionite is a naturally occurring fibrous zeolite mineral, first described by Eakle. Erionite is produced in silica-rich volcanic eruptions, and is then later dissolved by water and recrystallized as zeolites, often in sedimentary rocks. When aerosolised and inhaled, erionite fibres have been associated with health effects similar to those typically seen with exposure to asbestos, such as malignant mesothelioma (MM).