Agency Releases National Asbestos Exposure Review

A story appearing on several Montana news stations highlights a recent report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, stating that the legacy of WR Grace vermiculite contamination reaches far beyond Libby, Montana, where hundreds have already died or been sickened by exposure to asbestos.

According to the story, the newly-released report focuses on different places across the country where WR Grace workers and their families were exposed to Libby asbestos. This includes 28 locations throughout the U.S. where Grace vermiculite was made into commercial insulation.

Like Libby, where vermiculite-containing materials were made available to locals to be used as fill, similar situations were found across the country, including in western Pennsylvania, where the mineral surfaced at a playground located beside a Grace facility, and in Minnesota, where dozens of families used the vermiculite waste rock as fill for their yards.

Next year, the agency expects to release a larger report on the 28 processing sites including recommendations about what to do next. In the meantime, the Center for Environmental Health Sciences was founded at University of Montana in 2000, in part to study asbestos-related disease in Libby, and will begin to look at exposure outside of this small Montana town. Earlier this month, scientists with the center learned they were receiving a five-year, $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to assist in their research.

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