June 18, 2009

EPA Paying Asbestos Bills in Montana

EPA Paying Asbestos Bills in Montana

The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday declared its first-ever "public health emergency," saying the federal government will funnel $6 million to provide medical care for people sickened by asbestos from a mine in northwest Montana.

The declaration applies to the towns of Libby and Troy, where for decades workers dug for vermiculite, a mineral used in insulation. They were unknowingly poisoning themselves: The vermiculite was contaminated with a toxic form of asbestos, which workers carried home on their clothes.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that there are 500 people with asbestos-related illnesses such as lung cancer and asbestosis in the two towns, whose populations total about 3,900. Asbestos also causes Mesothelioma

A spokeswoman for the department said 50 new cases are diagnosed every year, including some in workers' relatives and children who never set foot in a mine.

EPA Paying Asbestos Bills in Montana

Posted at June 18, 2009 3:35 AM

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