Asbestos Contamination in Libby Montana - Essay Example

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In the paper “Asbestos Contamination in Libby Montana” the author analyzes a story on mass deaths for a long period. It was described as deaths due to occupational and non-occupational exposure to tremolite asbestos dust from vermiculite mining activities in Libby, Montana…
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Asbestos Contamination in Libby Montana
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Download file to see previous pages These diseases are incurable and terminal with mesothelioma directly and exclusively linked to asbestos dust exposure. (Peacock, 2003).
The GAO (2003) acknowledged that its study was conducted as records showed that between 1979 and 1998, the number of deaths in Libby, Montana from lung disease asbestosis was 40 to 80 times higher all over the United States. In the investigation, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported contamination of asbestos in vermiculite ore processing in Libby. By year 2001, about 18 % of current and former Libby residents who received x-rays were identified having asbestos related lung abnormalities as per record of the Department of Health and Human Services (GAO, 2003). The business mining operations began in 1923. W.R. Grace operated vermiculite mine and dispensation mill in Libby from 1963 until the year of 1990 when it was closed. The mining company employed up to 200 people annually at its vermiculite mine and mill. Workers inhaled asbestos-contaminated dust during mining operations and moving the vermiculite ore and this contaminated dust remains in worker’s clothes and vehicles and it is brought to town. The product of the company is Zonolite® Attic Insulation was used in resident’s homes and in new home construction in various locations around Libby. The vermiculite ore was distributed to extension plants throughout the country and processed into fireproofing materials and insulations, exposing many more workers. At its peak of mining operation, vermiculite mining production reached more than 200,000 tons annually. And W.R. Grace is believed to have 80% of vermiculite around the world.
In the early 1920s, initial mining operations began for vermiculite ore body seven miles northeast of Libby, Montana. Full-scale mining operation resumed a decade later under the Universal Zonolite Insulation Company (Zonolite). The vermiculite mined from Zonolite Mountain is contaminated with asbestos fibers, including tremolite and actinolite, and contains the related fibrous asbestiform minerals winchite, richterite, and ferro-edenite. Mining and processing operations, as well as home use of waste rock and products from the Zonolite mine, resulted in the spreading of asbestos throughout the town. Thousands of people in Libby, including former mine workers, their relatives, and other residents, have exhibited signs and symptoms of asbestos-related disease. Since 1999, in response to reports of extensive disease among Libby, Montana residents, EPA's Region 8 Emergency Response Branch has been conducting sampling and removals to tackle the most highly contaminated areas in the Libby valley (EPA, 2002).
Exposure Pathways
Occupational- miners were exposed to high levels of asbestos in the air at the mine, during convey and handling operations, and during processing operations.
Household contact- families of workers were exposed to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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