Exposure to naturally occurring mineral fibers due to off-road vehicle use: A review

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International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health





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Background The use of off-road vehicles (ORVs) is a popular source of outdoor recreation in the United States. While personal injury has been the focus of most epidemiologic investigations regarding ORV use to date, other health effects associated with ORV use have not been adequately examined. ORVs have been designed to operate in rugged, unpaved terrain, and ORVs can produce copious amounts of fugitive dust. ORV use in geographic regions with naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) and erionite (NOE) 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. Methods A comprehensive narrative review of existing literature and reports relevant to off-road recreation and mineral fiber exposure was conducted. Manuscripts and reports included in the review were limited to those that contained quantitative data regarding concentrations of mineral fibers recorded during vehicular traffic on an unpaved road and publication in a peer-reviewed journal, official report composed by a government agency, or a report generated under the endorsement of a government agency. In addition, the potential public health impact of ORV use in regions with NOA/NOE was estimated by calculating the proximity of known mineral fiber occurrences to areas of ORV use. Results A total of 15 publications met inclusion criteria. Exposures to NOA/NOE observed from personal sampling in the included studies ranged from less than 0.01–5.6 f/cc. ORV position while riding in a group and vehicle speed were frequent determinants of measured concentrations. Multiple studies also suggest that children may experience higher exposures to mineral fibers in comparison to adult ORV riders. Information on ORV trails and 665 known occurrences of NOA/NOE was available for five states located in the western United States. Of these 665 known occurrences, approximately 80% (n = 515) were located within 20 miles of an ORV trail, and nearly a third were located within one mile. Conclusions Individuals who operate ORVs in regions where NOA/NOE is a component of the underlying soil or unpaved road may experience elevated exposures to mineral fibers. Given the prevalence of ORV trails in close proximity to these natural fiber occurrences, epidemiologic and surveillance studies of individuals who frequently engage in ORV use are recommended. Public health initiatives should concentrate on increasing awareness of these risks, allowing ORV users to make informed choices and take appropriate measures to limit these risks where possible. © 2017 Elsevier GmbH



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