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Off-Road Vehicles Tied To Asbestos – What You Need To Know

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We’re continually discovering new things about asbestos, as the technology which has been developed to counteract it and remove it progresses. This means that an increased awareness of what can expose us to the carcinogenic fibres is also going to happen. This statement has rung true for those people who are using off-road vehicles, as they may well be one of the most at risk group of people at this moment in time.

How Does An Off-Road Vehicle Connect to Asbestos?

Most people will have seen or heard of, an off-road vehicle. Things like dirt bikes and four-wheel drive cars, like the Land Rover, are all designed to go off the roads and explore the wilderness with more freedom. However, this adventuring may well put people at risk of asbestos exposure. This is because scientists are now concerned that the clouds of dust which are often kicked up by these vehicles may well contain asbestos fibres which occur naturally in a landscape.

A recent study which was conducted found that ‘Off-Road Vehicles (ORV) use in geographic regions with naturally occurring asbestos may result in the liberation of these minerals from underlying rocks and soil, which may put ORV participants at risk to potentially hazardous inhalation exposures’. This means that there’s a severe risk of the asbestos being dislodged from the rocks and soil, and being kicked up into the air with the dust clouds, where they are then inhaled by the people on the vehicles.

This is becoming more and more of a problem as a growing number of thrill-seeking young people more often take to their bikes and spend their days crashing around in the wilderness. If they do become exposed, they will not know about the conditions associated with asbestos until they are adults.

The fibres are carcinogenic to the humans, but they do not become problems until later on in life, with the latency taking around 10 to 50 years to manifest within the body as a serious condition. The study, which was conducted in America, found that 80% of off-road trails in California, Utah and Colorado were all filled with the fibres. As well as this, they were all trails which were frequently used by young people who were looking for an exciting afternoon of biking around the wilderness. A significant portion of the asbestos deposits within America are found within the Appalachian Mountains, which spread across 18 different states. These are also common areas for people to go biking and off-road exploring, which only serves to reaffirm the risks which come from the fibres.

Overall, the growing use of off-road vehicles is something which is very concerning, especially as this new information regarding natural asbestos has come to light. The fibres are dangerous, and cannot be easily removed from the body once inhaled, so people need to take extra care when it comes to the off-road usage. If you know that any location near you has asbestos, regardless of whether it is in the USA or not, it’s safest just to stay away.

If you are into your off-roading, and have concerns about a particular area, make sure you alert your local council. Alternatively if you own the land in question, you could contact our team for an asbestos survey to investigate whether asbestos is actually present.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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