Serpentine Rock Danger Question???

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by budcampo, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. budcampo

    budcampo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I got a bunch of rocks from a friend of mine as a trade for some work. Used them in my yard for some landscaping and just found out after I finished that they are serpentine and filled with Asbestos. I did a bunch of research about the serpentine rock, and just about everything had to do with crushed rock and rock dust from gravel that is made of serpentine.

    My question... What I used them for in my yard shown in the picture, does anybody know if this is a health hazard?

    I know nothing about this, I do little landscaping, most of the work I do is tree work and weedabatement, so any advice would be appreciated. I have a little boy, and will get rid of it ASAP if it is a danger... but if the big rocks don't pose a risk then I'd love to keep them, they are some of the coolest looking rocks I've seen for landscaping.
    Thanks a bunch guys!

  2. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    I don't know about serpentine rocks. So I goolged this:

    and this:

    California state will no longer use it for roads because as the road wears down the asbestos particles will be released.

    And that brings to light what I have always known about asbestos that as it breaks down into tiny fibers it becomes air born and is a health hazard.

    Also there is no safe level that one can be exposed to asbestos.

  3. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I wouldn't worry about it as long as your son isn't beating on them with a rock hammer. The risk of him inhaling any fibers from them is small, assuming that they do contain asbestos. Serpentine rocks are very common in some areas and vary widely in minerolgy...they may not even contain absestos fibers.

    This is just my opinion, but I do have an environmental science degree with a concentration is geology and a chemistry minor and was a licensed abestos inpector/risk assessor as part of my duties working for environmental consulting and engineering firms for 15 years.

    It was wise of you to look into it, but I don't think you have anything to worry about. If you wanted to be extra cautious you could remove them. Maybe this article will help you decide.
  4. budcampo

    budcampo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Read all the articles you guys listed. Thanks for the advice. Good to hear from someone that seems to know quite a bit on the issue (Darryl), makes me a lot more comfortable. The only thing, like I mentioned before is that they are all related to stuff used for roads, which is crushed rock, which has a lot of dust. I don't know enough about rocks to know how fast a large rock like that will decay and cause dust.
    Then, just to be curious I started looking up stuff like granite, concrete, etc. and everything seems to cause cancer... But I know asbestos is especially bad.

    Anyway, I'm still very interested in advice from others on this forum, it wasn't a little project, so I don't just want to remove everything in a panic, and find out it's not a big deal. I was kind of hoping the same thing, like as long as I'm not out there sanding the rocks down, or breaking them, that hopefully it should be ok?

    Anyways, thanks guys, keep it coming!

    BTW, how does the landscaping look for a amature? Haha!
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  5. thunderthud

    thunderthud LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    The biggest exposure was when you moved them from the truck into their final place. Left alone, there is no imminent danger. Serpentine rock is one of those things you come across doing excavation, and most of the time you go through it without realizing the geology.

    If I knew what it was, would I have it in front of my house? Probably not. But that is because my son would be beating on it frequently. I'd have it tested to see if there is any friable asbestos fibers present. As I recall, and let me say I'm not a geologist, not all serpentine rock formations contains asbestos fibers.
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Sorry, I didn't realize 32vld linked the same article I did. I didn't even look at his links until now.

    That gravel area around the rocks is probably a greater hazard than the rocks itself, since it will give off dust and who knows what the mineral makeup of it is. Even crushed quartz is a danger...silicosis. Personally I think think that a lot of these health scares are blown out of proportion. Did you know that more people die from choking on sandwich tootpicks every year than from asbestos exposure? Where's the lobby to ban sandwich toothpicks? Anyone wanna join my new non-profit action organization PAST (Parents Against Sandwich Toothpicks)?

    If you have Serpentine rocks in your area, you're probably exposed to asbestos fibers in dust on a daily basis. As with anything toxic, it's all about dose. It's usually day-in-day-out occupational exposure that tips the balance and puts people at risk. If things were really as bad as some would have us believe, none of us would even be here today. I used to have to battle with the Connecticut Department of Enviromental Protection on a regular basis over what I believed were stupid regulations. For instance, they would apply their "direct exposure criteria" for soil to soils to a depth of 15 feet, even under pavement. Basically they're assuming that "Little Johnny" is going to eat a tablespoon of dirt every day from soil under an asphalt parking lot to a depth of 15 feet below grade. I don't know about you, but I've never seen a kid sitting there with a spoon 15 feet under a parking lot eating dirt...not once, let alone every day!
  7. budcampo

    budcampo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Hahaha! Ya, the government is pretty ridiculous on stuff! They've screwed us on more than a few occations with regulations, supposed to be your own property right?...
    Anyway, thanks again, I like to be informed about stuff, but sometimes I think and worry too much. I guess it's all those asbestos commercials, and ya, if you start making a bunch of money on toothpick lawsuits I'll help out :)
  8. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Can you seal them with a patio sealer?
  9. budcampo

    budcampo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    hmmm.... might make them shine better too eh?
  10. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

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