Medical Geology Issues in North America

Part of the International Year of Planet Earth book series (IYPE)


To a larger degree than most others, North Americans are shielded from the natural environment. Nevertheless, health problems caused by geologic materials and geologic processes do occur in North America. In contrast to the acute health problems caused by the geologic environment in developing countries, in North America these health concerns are more likely to be chronic, caused by long-term, low-level exposures. Among the potential health concerns that have received public health attention are exposure to trace elements such as fluorine, arsenic, and radon; exposure to natural mineral dusts; occupational and community exposures to trace elements; and ingestion of naturally occurring organic compounds in drinking water. This chapter provides North American examples of each of these environmental health problems and suggestions how the earth sciences can be an integral part of multi-disciplinary teams working to mitigate these problems.


United States Canada Fluorosis Cancer Asbestos Black lung disease BEN Organic compounds Radon Arsenic Diabetes Fluorine 



Parts of this chapter has been partially published in “Metal Contaminants in New Zealand –Sources, Treatments and Effects on Ecology and Human Health” (Moore TA, Black A, Centeno JA, et al., 2005, Editors; resolutionz press, Christchurch, New Zealand. ISBN: 0-476-01619-3). JAC is grateful to Dr. Tim Moore and resolution press for allowing the use of this material. This chapter has been reviewed in accordance with the policy and guidelines of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and the Department of Defense, and approved for publication. Approval should not be construed to reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the United States Government, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA
  2. 2.University of Queensland, School of Population HealthBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.U.S. Armed Forces Institute of PathologyWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.NewFieldsDenverUSA

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