When you're used to seeing it in processed form, wrapped around old heating pipes or pressed into floor tiles, it's easy to forget that good old, cancer causing asbestos is actually a natural mineral. What's more, the natural form can cause the same kind of lung damage and illness associated with factory production. New efforts are underway to map places where fibrous asbestos is a part of the natural landscape, though it's unclear what you can really do about it if it turns out that your subdivision was built on top of an asbestos deposit. Deborah Blum has the story at The New York Times.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.