From: Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center
Published August 30, 2017 11:46 AM

Researchers Raise Public Health Concerns About Off-Road Vehicles and Inhalation of Asbestos

Preventing injuries may not be the only reason children shouldn’t use off-road vehicles (ORVs).

In a new study, public health scientists raise concerns that people who use ORVs in many regions of the country may face exposure to hazardous mineral fibers. These include naturally occurring asbestos and erionite – an asbestos-like material that occurs in sedimentary rocks of the western United States.

Most of the deposits are located along the Appalachian Mountains and ranges in the West and Southwest, especially California.

“ORVs have been designed to operate in rugged, unpaved terrain, and they can produce copious amounts of dust,” says Chris Wolfe, MS, an epidemiologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and lead author of the study. “During off-roading in these areas, asbestos and other mineral fibers can become airborne as a component of the dust generated by ORVs. This puts riders – particularly children -- at risk of inhalation exposure, but the dust can also be blown to other areas and may pose a risk to others. We found that a substantial amount of ORV trails are located within 20 miles of a naturally occurring asbestos deposit.”

The study, which examines the potential for airborne fiber exposures associated with ORVs, reviews 15 previous studies on the subject and examines the spatial relationship between ORV trails and known deposits of these fibers. 

The study is published online in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health.

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