According to the Associated Press, certain gravel roads in western North Dakota use erionite, a mineral that is mined in the Killdeer mountains. Erionite forms wool-like fribrous masses among rock formations and has properties similar to asbestos. Scientists suspect that, like asbestos, erionite collects in the lungs in those fibrous masses, a factor that could lead to lung cancer in people who have long-term exposure to it.

North Dakota health officials are looking for 50 volunteers to submit to chest X-rays and CT scans in order to find out if there is a cancer risk, but so far they can't secure enough volunteers. The AP report quotes one resident as saying: "Maybe we'd rather not know we have cancer." A state representative, on the other hand, said she grew up playing in a gravel pit and thinks the risk is being overstated. Volunteers who do sign up will be paid $100 for their time.

[Source: The Associated Press via WSBTV | Photo: Pastor Rick]