Asbestos and Other Hazardous Fibrous Minerals: Potential Exposure Pathways and Associated Health Risks

Terri Ann Berry, Elena Belluso, Ruggero Vigliaturo, Reto Gieré, Edward A. Emmett, Joseph R. Testa, Gregor Steinhorn, Shannon L. Wallis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


There are six elongate mineral particles (EMPs) corresponding to specific dimensional and morphological criteria, known as asbestos. Responsible for health issues including asbestosis, and malignant mesothelioma, asbestos has been well researched. Despite this, significant exposure continues to occur throughout the world, potentially affecting 125 million people in the workplace and causing thousands of deaths annually from exposure in homes. However, there are other EMPS, such as fibrous/asbestiform erionite, that are classified as carcinogens and have been linked to cancers in areas where it has been incorporated into local building materials or released into the environment through earthmoving activities. Erionite is a more potent carcinogen than asbestos but as it is seldom used for commercial purposes, exposure pathways have been less well studied. Despite the apparent structural and chemical similarities between asbestos and fibrous erionite, their health risks and exposure pathways are quite different. This article examines the hazards presented by EMPs with a particular focus on fibrous erionite. It includes a discussion of the global locations of erionite and similar hazardous minerals, a comparison of the multiple exposure pathways for asbestos and fibrous erionite, a brief discussion of the confusing nomenclature associated with EMPs, and considerations of increasing global mesothelioma cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4031
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • asbestiform
  • asbestos fibres
  • erionite
  • exposure
  • malignant mesothelioma


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