Calif. legislators consider scrapping state rock designation of mineral that contains asbestos

By Trevor Hunnicutt, AP
Thursday, July 15, 2010

Calif may dump ’state rock’ that contains asbestos

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — One California state lawmaker wants the state rock stripped of its honorific status.

Lawmakers named serpentine the state rock in 1965 because it symbolized the Gold Rush years and contained a mineral being put to myriad industrial uses.

Nearly half a century later, attitudes toward that mineral have changed and health authorities say asbestos can cause an incurable cancer called mesothelioma as well as other diseases when its fibers are inhaled.

But Democratic state Sen. Gloria Romero’s proposal to strip serpentinite, as the jade-green rock is formally known, of its title has hit a wall of opposition from geologists and industry advocates. Contending the rock is being unfairly maligned, they have started a social-media crusade online to stop the proposal.

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