Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger submitted a formal petition today urging state regulators to require environmental testing for asbestos in soils at the Badger Army Ammunition Plant.
Asbestos fibers found in soil can become airborne as the result of site disturbance by wind, weathering, or human activities. Unlike most minerals which turn into dust particles when crushed, asbestos breaks up into fine fibers that are too small to be seen by the human eye.
Exposure to asbestos fibers through inhalation has been associated with lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers, as well as asbestosis and other nonmalignant respiratory diseases. The toxicity of a given asbestos fiber depends on a number of variables including chemical composition, fiber shape, and fiber size.
CSWAB has asked the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to require soil testing using polarized light microscopy which is capable of detecting asbestos fibers not visible to the human eye. The Army is currently required to remove only visible pieces of asbestos-containing materials to qualify for clean site closure.
The test method sought by CSWAB is recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has been used at other Army bases around the country including the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Virginia, the Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant in Ohio, and the Seneca Army Depot in New York State.