New Studies to Begin --- Asbestos found in "non-asbestos" products

 

NEW - March 2000

 

New nationwide study of Asbestos to begin.

Consumer Product Safety Commission reportedly is beginning a new nationwide investigation of asbestos in consumer products, including attic insulation. EPA investigators are reviewing products presently on store shelves, and asbestos has been found in some of the products tested.

Recent tests found asbestos in vermiculite products, thought to be "asbestos free". Products include vermiculite attic insulation, also sold as Zonolite, and vermiculite garden soil expanders and lawn products sold through garden supply stores. HMA's own inspections have identified instances of vermiculite fireproofing in buildings with up to 30 % asbestos content.

Andrew Schneider, Seattle Post-Intelligencer correspondent, began a study of the alarmingly high death rate from asbestos related cancer in the small town of Libby, Montana. The investigation quickly zeroed in on a 119 year old vermiculite mine, now closed. Along with the enormous deposits of vermiculite in the earth of nearby Zonolite Mountain were millions of tons of tremolite asbestos.

 

So What? - - I don't live in Libby, Montana:

Vermiculite and vermiculite (Zonolite) products were widely marketed by various suppliers as "non-asbestos" or asbestos substitutes. Records indicate that an estimated 80 % of the worlds' supply of vermiculite came from Libby, Montana. Records further indicated that approximately 300,000 pounds of asbestos per day went through the primary ore-processing facility.

The Seattle P-I reports that:

® In Dallas, Neil Pflum, EPA's asbestos coordinator for the Southwest states, is examining building products found in home-improvement stores.

® In Seattle, Keven McDermott of EPA's Pacific Northwest Investigative Response Team and her partners are testing potting soil, vermiculite and other lawn products for asbestos.

® In Libby, Mont., Paul Peronard is EPA's on-scene coordinator. His emergency response team has found lingering asbestos from a vermiculite mine that closed 10 years ago. He wants the agency to consider whether the public is at risk from millions of bags of home insulation sold across North America.

 

The series of Seattle Post-Intelligencer articles can be found at the Seattle P-I Special Reports section.

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