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Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco
  
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Wiley Hudson




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PostPosted: Mar 11, 2018 16:32    Post subject: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

I was looking at a specimen of silver etched out of quartz (?) from Bou Azzer, Morocco and noticed a white, fibrous accessory mineral. Upon further research it appears that this mineral is actinolite, which I understand is a form of asbestos. Does this actinolite have similar respiratory hazards as old asbestos insulation? In what type of deposit do these silvers form?

This is my first post, so "hello".
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Mar 11, 2018 17:04    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Welcome to the forum, Wiley!

Not all actinolite is asbestos. Actinolite is a mineral species name, whereas asbestos is a textural term for several different species of extremely fibrous minerals. So a needle-like actinolite doesn't qualify as asbestos. It would have to be more like wool to be asbestos. And in order to cause any significant damage to the lungs, you would have to breathe in large quantities of extremely tiny particles of it.

Most cases of asbestos-related diseases were suffered by people exposed to industrial quantities of the stuff, like in the shipbuilding industry, for example. And most of them were smokers too. As for the rest of the population, the asbestos scare is basically industrial-scale fearmongering by people making money off of it. Your chances of getting sick from owning a mineral specimen with asbestos in it are negligible. (Unless you're planning to grind up the specimen to a fine powder and snort it like cocaine.) You're more likely to die from eating fried food, or falling in the shower.

And your actinolite specimen probably doesn't qualify as "asbestos" anyway - Not fibrous enough. So enjoy it without worries.
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: Mar 11, 2018 17:21    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Being a retired MD pathologist, I will write a short dissertation on asbestiform minerals and their potential hazards. But let me first state that I do not specifically know exactly what your actinolite example might be. Unless you drop the heavy rock on your foot or cut your finger on a crystal, it should not pose any hazard to you.

In the late 1950s - 1960s it was noted by medical professionals that there was an unusual statistically significant increase in several lung diseases in workers with exposure to asbestos in several jobs. These workers had worked for long time periods in dusty environments with asbestos fibers as part of the dusty air. One job was shipyard workers spraying fire retardant coatings on ships under construction. Several studies confirmed the association. Many workers, after breathing this dusty air over a long time period had fibrosis of their lung tissue and lining of their lungs called pulmonary fibrosis. This condition leads to restricted expansion of the lung lining, the pleura, with consequent pulmonary fibrosis, also known as asbestosis.
Also increased, after chronic inhalation of the fibers, was the incidence of several types of lung cancer. The most damning statistic was a rise in the incidence of a rare cancer of the mesothelial lining of the lungs. This cancer, a sarcoma, was known as mesothelioma. Abdominal mesotheliomas also occurred.
Further studies revealed that, after chronic inhalation, only certain types and sizes of asbestos fibers were responsible for the disease. If the worker also smoked, this further increased the risk of any of these diseases. Studies also looked at quarry workers and people living down wind from the quarries. Here, the statistics were not so clear cut, maybe a slight statistical association.

Since that time, there have been many efforts to clean up the air and wear respiratory equipment where necessary. There also have been many class action law suits against the asbestos producers and ship yard companies etc. Collecting asbestiform minerals should post no respiratory dangers when common sense handling practices are followed.

Hope this helps. BOB
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PostPosted: Mar 11, 2018 17:32    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

If I'm not mistaken, there is also a relationship between the actual mineral that produces the asbestos fibers and the incidence of cancer. A number of different minerals produce asbestos fibers, but one is much more potent as a cancer inducer because of chemical reactions with the lung tissue. Unfortunately, I am not confident to say which mineral is the bad one. This would be another factor in addition to the extent and duration of exposure, which (latter) may actually be more important.
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Jim Robison




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PostPosted: Mar 11, 2018 17:34    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Wiley,
You will find a wide variety of folks on this forum with knowledge of a wide variety of minerals, and potential handling issues. Both Alfredo and Bob know their stuff. If you are a mineral collector you are welcomed to the forum. Reading it on a frequent basis will rapidly expand your knowledge, and pleasure, as you read, and where it fits respond. You might be surprised at what first bring folks here. Welcome. New collectors and long time veterans both have things to learn. Good questions are treated with respect here.
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Don Lum




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PostPosted: Mar 11, 2018 22:15    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Welcome to The Forum, Wiley.

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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Mar 12, 2018 02:44    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Pete Richards wrote:
If I'm not mistaken, there is also a relationship between the actual mineral that produces the asbestos fibers and the incidence of cancer. A number of different minerals produce asbestos fibers, but one is much more potent as a cancer inducer because of chemical reactions with the lung tissue. Unfortunately, I am not confident to say which mineral is the bad one. This would be another factor in addition to the extent and duration of exposure, which (latter) may actually be more important.


Yes, the various 'asbestiform' minerals have different levels of pathogenicity. It relates more to the size [diameter and average length of fibers in environment] than their different chemical structures. I have a graduate degree in Environmental Health and Toxicology and had specific study on asbestiform minerals. I also have some in my personal collection. I just treat them with respect. If they are very friable [pieces easily break off], I'd keep them in plastic. Chrysotile is generally the more dangerous of the common minerals, as the small particles that break off can float in the air and easily get far down into the lung. As little as a single fiber in the lung can cause cancer. The body has some mechanisms to remove such fibers, but these are difficult for the body to remove due to size and their becoming impaled into the tissue. With minerals like that, if they just sit there in your collection they won't be harmful [unless they are shedding small fibers!]; however, I'd suggest not handling them more than is necessary and when you do, wash your hands in soap and water afterwards. They are not minerals for a child to play with either. As with all substances that can cause cancer by whatever mechanism it is a statistical Russian Roulette one is playing. One can only give the average chances of problems - not the actual one you or someone else will experience. And yes, there are synergistic effects from other fibers inhaled and smoking. A very few asbestiform minerals can cause skin problems should the fibers impale the skin - so handle them carefully. Watch to see if pieces are breaking off spontaneously or with handling - in either case, I keep those kind of specimens in sealed plastic bags, but still on display.
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PostPosted: Mar 12, 2018 04:43    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Wiley Hudson wrote:
I was looking at a specimen of silver etched out of quartz (?) from Bou Azzer, Morocco and noticed a white, fibrous accessory mineral. Upon further research it appears that this mineral is actinolite, which I understand is a form of asbestos...

To clarify:
- Your Silver etched had Calcite and that Calcite was etched with dilute HCl
- It came from Bouismas Mine, Bou Azzer area
- Yes, the related mineral is Actinolite, below you will find copy of the analysis

Welcome to FMF



Actinolite-Bouismas_Bou Azzer_Morocco.jpg
 Description:
Analysis made by the late and highly missed Joan Viñals
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Actinolite-Bouismas_Bou Azzer_Morocco.jpg


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PostPosted: Mar 12, 2018 05:35    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Erionite. A member of the zeolite group and it seems to cause mesothelioma cancer.

https://www.aiha.org/publications-and-resources/TheSynergist/AIHANews/Pages/Is-Erionite-the-New-Asbestos.aspx

Also found in NM. So many things to worry about in life.

http://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2011/11/map-erionite/.

Peter Lemkin wrote:
Pete Richards wrote:
If I'm not mistaken, there is also a relationship between the actual mineral that produces the asbestos fibers and the incidence of cancer. A number of different minerals produce asbestos fibers, but one is much more potent as a cancer inducer because of chemical reactions with the lung tissue. Unfortunately, I am not confident to say which mineral is the bad one. This would be another factor in addition to the extent and duration of exposure, which (latter) may actually be more important.


Yes, the various 'asbestiform' minerals have different levels of pathogenicity. It relates more to the size [diameter and average length of fibers in environment] than their different chemical structures. I have a graduate degree in Environmental Health and Toxicology and had specific study on asbestiform minerals. I also have some in my personal collection. I just treat them with respect. If they are very friable [pieces easily break off], I'd keep them in plastic. Chrysotile is generally the more dangerous of the common minerals, as the small particles that break off can float in the air and easily get far down into the lung. As little as a single fiber in the lung can cause cancer. The body has some mechanisms to remove such fibers, but these are difficult for the body to remove due to size and their becoming impaled into the tissue. With minerals like that, if they just sit there in your collection they won't be harmful [unless they are shedding small fibers!]; however, I'd suggest not handling them more than is necessary and when you do, wash your hands in soap and water afterwards. They are not minerals for a child to play with either. As with all substances that can cause cancer by whatever mechanism it is a statistical Russian Roulette one is playing. One can only give the average chances of problems - not the actual one you or someone else will experience. And yes, there are synergistic effects from other fibers inhaled and smoking. A very few asbestiform minerals can cause skin problems should the fibers impale the skin - so handle them carefully. Watch to see if pieces are breaking off spontaneously or with handling - in either case, I keep those kind of specimens in sealed plastic bags, but still on display.
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Bob Carnein




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PostPosted: Mar 12, 2018 11:01    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Although the info about erionite is new to me, I believe the most dangerous variety of commercial asbestos (the one definitely related to mesothelioma) is crocidolite (riebeckite or "blue asbestos"). Most of this came from RSA, and I don't believe it's widely mined or used anymore. Chrysotile (serpentine) asbestos, which was most widely used in the US, appears to be associated with lung cancer and asbestosis in heavy doses, but it seems to have little or no effect in low doses. Note the qualifications ("believe", "appears", etc.)--after many years of research, there's still no consensus on the dangers of many varieties. The best way to treat asbestos products seems to be to leave them alone.
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Wiley Hudson




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PostPosted: Mar 12, 2018 16:50    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Thank you all for your comments. I can't believe people cared so much as to answer me! Not only was that my first post on FMF, but my first post of any kind ever!

I found the silver specimens at the Deming, NM rockhound roundup. We had quite a fun day poking around there. Most specimens were not labeled well (as was the case here), and when I found a similar piece in my collection at home it was actually miss-labeled as Silver on Quartz. I thought it looked like Calcite, but being etched it was hard to tell. So thanks for that ID Jordi.

I was poking around Mindat to determine the type of deposit from which these silvers originate, but had no luck with my cursory search (more time is in order). I recall poking around it the Calumet mine in Colorado 30 years ago and finding calcite associated with actinolite. I believe that was a skarn deposit...Is Bou Azzer a skarn too?
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Bob Carnein




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PostPosted: Mar 12, 2018 20:13    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Minerals of the tremolite-actinolite series aren't listed for Bou Azzer on mindat. That doesn't mean they don't occur there, but you may be looking at something else.
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PostPosted: Mar 12, 2018 20:24    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

Bob, it is listed on Mindat since November 2010. There is even a photo: https://www.mindat.org/photo-727399.html
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PostPosted: Mar 13, 2018 12:32    Post subject: Re: Silver and Actinolite from Bou Azer, Morocco  

My mistake-- I wonder what I clicked on?
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