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Minerals and Health

Project Contacts:

Project Objectives

Earth materials can be produced by natural earth processes, by human activities, or by a mix of both. Most public health attention has focused on potential health effects of occupational and environmental exposures to anthropogenic earth materials, which include materials extracted from the earth and transformed by humans for use in society (such as asbestos), or materials such as soils that are contaminated by human activities. However, geogenic earth materials (produced from the earth by natural processes) and geoanthropogenic earth materials (produced from natural sources by processes that are modified or enhanced by human activities) are increasingly of concern as potential agents of toxicity and disease, via both environmental and occupational exposures.

This project, in collaboration with various USGS projects and many different health scientists, works to help understand the linkages between geology, the environment, and health on many issues that are key to public policy and environmental security. The project provides interdisciplinary science to policy makers and regulators that they can use to develop effective regulations and policies that protect the environment and public health, but that do not over-regulate.

Project tasks cover a range of topics, including:

Relevance & Impact

The Minerals and Health Project continues the high visibility health-related research funded by the USGS Mineral Resources Program since 2000 carried out by the preceding Earth Materials and Human Health and Health Effects of Mineral Dusts projects.

Project scientists are regularly consulted for expertise by a wide variety of colleagues across the health sciences, and have active collaborations with health scientists from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Justice (DOJ), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), U.S. Coast Guard, National Jewish Health Center, and schools of public health or medicine in several universities.

Project scientists have been asked to provide expert input to congressional representatives (including expert testimony in front of Congress), serve as expert members on a variety of Federal, National Academy of Science, and special panels or committees, including the: Federal Interagency Asbestos Working Group, World Trade Center Technical Expert Review Panel, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Asbestos Research Roadmap Review Panel, and the Institute of Medicine review panel for the NIOSH roadmap for asbestos research.

Project scientists are also increasingly recognized for their contributions to disaster response and preparedness research, both within and outside the USGS.

Mineral Resources Program
Eastern Central Western Alaska Minerals Information Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Spatial Data

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