Re-evaluation and re-classification of erionite series minerals


ENVIRONMENTAL GEOCHEMISTRY AND HEALTH, vol.30, no.4, pp.355-366, 2008 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Governments and industries have introduced regulatory measures requiring safety controls to limit asbestos exposure of the general public and asbestos workers. Although erionite is a more potent health hazard mineral than asbestos, it has received far less attention. Precise definition of erionite, types of these fibrous minerals, and most importantly, characterization requirements still raise questions and often lead to arguments and even legal disputes. Many bulk erionite samples used in animal and cell experiments for carcinogenicity are not mineralogically pure. To test this hypothesis, we characterized two erionite standards from Rome, Oregon, and Pine Valley, Nevada, USA. These standards were characterized quantitatively using modern analytical techniques, and one of them, the erionite standard from Rome, Oregon, passed the required tests for positive identification, but the other, the erionite standard from Pine Valley, Nevada, did not. Furthermore, we observed ambiguous definitions, incorrect identifications, and inaccurate reporting of clinical investigations. To address this problem, we established characterization guidelines for positive identification of erionite using a modified balance error formula, and we re-evaluated and re-classified published erionite data from the literature as erionite-Ca, erionite-Na, and erionite-K. If data did not pass either the E% or Mg-content test, then we propose that reference to them in the literature be disregarded. Erionite requires special attention from the mineralogical community to help establish its true carcinogenetic properties. We believe that the characterization guidelines established in this paper will contribute to setting up rules and regulations for evaluation of erionite by regulatory agencies.