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Health risks of asbestos are unacceptably high

Published Fri, Nov 20, 2009 02:00 AM

Chrysotile asbestos is a known human carcinogen. Why expose workers and the public? We believe that Professor John J.W. Rogers, in his Nov. 12 Point of View article on asbestos, grossly underrepresented the human health risks associated with exposure to chrysotile asbestos.

The National Toxicology Program, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have established chrysotile asbestos as a known human carcinogen. Internationally, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the International Program on Chemical Safety have classified chrysotile as a known human carcinogen. An exposure level without a cancer risk has not been established for any form of asbestos.

Rogers' primary argument for the lack of hazard with chrysotile appears to be the risk of mesothelioma. It is generally accepted that all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, cause mesothelioma; however, there is some scientific debate concerning the relative risk of mesothelioma posed by chrysotile versus the amphibole forms of asbestos. Nonetheless, there is no known safe exposure level for asbestos-related mesothelioma, and the scientific evidence continues to demonstrate risks at very low exposures.

Elevated mesothelioma risk has been demonstrated among household members of asbestos workers and among the general public living in the vicinity of industrial plants processing asbestos.

Rogers dismissed risks other than mesothelioma associated with exposures to chrysotile asbestos. The World Heath Organization recently affirmed that all forms of asbestos cause cancers of the lung, larynx and ovary as well as mesothelioma. Exposure to chrysotile causes fibrosis of the lung (asbestosis), which is disabling and often fatal.

The World Health Organization estimated that at least 90,000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancers alone. The International Labor Organization and the World Health Organization have called for a worldwide ban on all asbestos use, and more than 43 countries have banned the use of chrysotile.

We see no need to further the legacy of asbestos-related diseases in theU.S. and worldwide through continued use of chrysotile and other forms of asbestos. Appropriate substitute materials exist for all legitimate uses of asbestos, including chrysotile. Elimination of asbestos exposures is not "reverse greenwash" - it is sound public health policy.

John M. Dement

Professor,DukeUniversityMedicalCenter

Durham

David P. Brown

Director, Program Development

Health Sciences Research

SRA International

ResearchTrianglePark

http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/letters/story/200766.html

 
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'WorldTradeCenter Cough'

A look at some of the physical effects of the towers falling

By Rourke Decker - Published: Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Updated: Friday, November 20, 2009

His lungs were a study in contrasts-his right lung still spongy and pink, his left lung rigid and white. As I hefted the cancerous lung from his chest cavity, I was startled to discover that it felt like a chunk of concrete in my hands. I could only imagine the constant agony this gentleman must have endured in his waning years-reduced, no doubt, to laboring for breath from his one good lung as his heart hammered against the hostile, inflexible mass that no longer permitted it any room for expansion. Here's the tragedy: Judging by the appearance of his good lung, this man probably never smoked a cigarette in his entire life; he was simply doing his job. This sobering moment was one of many fascinating experiences I had while studying anatomy and physiology this past summer. Here at UW-La Crosse, students have the unusual opportunity to learn "A&P" on human cadavers. Every year a fresh cadaver arrives at Ms. Kerry Hoar's anatomy lab. Every year a lucky group of students hones their dissection skills under Kerry's watchful eye. The cadaver then remains in the department as a valuable educational tool for four years, after which it is returned for cremation and burial. This summer the new cadaver presented with a condition known as mesothelioma, a rare form of malignant cancer associated with long-term occupational exposure to asbestos. Last week, as our nation commemorated the seventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on theWorldTradeCenter, I found myself contemplating that damaged lung. In the weeks and months that followed 9/11, reports Andrea Kane on CNN.com, tens of thousands rescue and recovery personnel labored at ground zero without the benefit of proper respirators or masks. Inhaling "caustic dust" and smoke containing a plethora of noxious chemicals-including asbestos-over seventy percent of workers succumbed to an array of health concerns, ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the mysterious ailment dubbed the "World Trade Center cough." Workers afflicted with the "WTC cough" flocked in droves to theI.J.SelikoffCenter for Occupational and Environmental Medicine atMount SinaiHospital. As reported at MSSM.edu, patients complained of a litany of symptoms eerily reminiscent of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, diseases common in lifelong smokers. Moreover, a five-year study released by the hospital revealed that fifty-nine percent of patients examined between July 2002 and April 2004 reported that their respiratory symptoms persisted at time of examination. Alarmingly, twenty percent of nonsmokers showed evidence of reduced lung capacity, an astounding fivefold increase over the national average of four percent. To be fair, however, the issue may not be entirely clear cut. In his January 2002 editorial on FoxNews.com, Steven Milloy, publisher of JunkScience.com, notes that in the aftermath of 9/11, residents ofManhattan also reported an upsurge in asthma attacks and severe headaches, attributing their symptoms to elevated levels of airborne asbestos and fiberglass. The problem with these claims is that neither asbestos nor fiberglass has ever been shown to cause asthma. Milloy cites Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) measurements demonstrating that airborne contamination around ground zero remained well within established safe limits. Mocking theI.J.SelikoffCenter for choosing a namesake "well-known for greatly exaggerating the risks of asbestos," Milloy argues that the so-called "WTC cough" was simply a manifestation of the yearly flu outbreak and dismisses the spike in asthma and headaches as hypochondria, noting that stress is a common trigger for both these conditions. In a 2004 piece, he similarly debunks the Sierra Club's claims that workers at ground zero are at increased risk of mesothelioma. Time has vindicated Milloy's skepticism to some extent. Kane writes that diagnoses for certain respiratory conditions have returned to pre-9/11 levels, symptoms of PTSD have proven to be transitory for most patients, and any short-term effect on infant mortality was negligible. So while we honor the suffering these courageous rescue workers endured as they struggled to rescue victims and return the City of New York to a state of normality, we can also take comfort in the likelihood that none of these heroes will ever experience the indignity of having a nosy student like myself pulling a rock-hard lung from their chest wall.

http://www.theracquet.net/2.6371/world-trade-center-cough-1.940480

 
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‘What is a safe dose for Libby?’Residents demand answers about toxicity of asbestos

Posted: Sunday, December 6, 2009 2:00 am |Updated: 10:08 pm, Sat Dec 5, 2009.

By LYNNETTE HINTZE/Daily InterLake

Nate Chute/Daily InterLake

Gordon Sullivan of Libby asks questions of EPA officials during a meeting on Tuesday in Libby. Scientists still don’t know how toxic Libby’s unique form of asbestos really is.

LIBBY — Frustration boiled over Tuesday at a meeting in Libby where federal scientists were long on technical explanations but short on answers about how toxic Libby’s unique form of asbestos really is.

“What is a safe dose for Libby?” Lerah Parker asked. “I want to know when it’s safe to bring my family back to our property.”

Ten years ago Parker and her husband, Mel, were forced off their land — the former vermiculite screening plant for W.R. Grace & Co. — and had to close down a thriving nursery business. To a large extent they’ve been in limbo ever since.

The Parkers’ property was cleaned and now is known by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as Operable Unit 2. Libby’s Superfund site is so big it has been broken down into eight units.

Proposed remedial-action plans for the first two units, the former screening plant and export plants, are in the public-comment phase until Dec. 16, after which the EPA is expected to issue a Record of Decision on the properties.

Once a Record of Decision is issued, “it doesn’t mean the EPA walks away from the property,” assured Helen Dawson, EPA chief of the Superfund science policy branch.

It didn’t make the Parkers feel any better when David Berry, an EPA toxicologist, admitted he doesn’t know yet what a “safe dose” is for their property.

Berry was on hand to explain the federal agency’s risk-assessment process for the Libby Superfund site. Risk assessments have been completed for Operable Units 1 and 2, but assessments for other portions of the Superfund site continue. They include the city ofLibby, the vermiculite mine site, the former Stimson lumber mill, railroad and highway corridors and theTroy community.

The federal government mobilizes cleanup efforts once the risk assessment shows one death per 10,000 people,Berry explained.

But Gordon Sullivan, a Libby writer and former technical adviser for the Libby cleanup project, pointed out that the Libby area, which has a population of roughly 10,000 people, has had 31 deaths just from asbestos-related mesothelioma, a tumor-causing cancer.

“We’ve based the cleanup strategy on an analytical strategy that doesn’t work,” Sullivan told the scientists. “We’ve tried to wrap our arms around this and have stylized our lives around information you give us.”

Risk assessments for Libby amphibole asbestos — a more deadly needle-sharp fiber than the less-toxic chrysotile asbestos — are based largely on old science that determines the level of asbestos with polarized light microscopy, EPA officials admitted.

Toxicology assessments are based on 1985 data from studies on lesser toxic asbestos, not Libby asbestos. And epidemiology and toxicology studies of Libby asbestos are a minimum of five years away from being completed.

“We’d like to have better information about Libby amphibole,”Dawson said.

If studies show that Libby asbestos is more potent, it may identify new or additional areas for cleanup, she added.

Libby City Council member D.C. Orr assured Dawson, “I think you’ll find Libby amphibole is more potent,” but Dawson stressed that “as a scientist we have to have the data to prove that.”

Sullivan said after the meeting that he believes the EPA “doesn’t want to know what’s in the soil,” otherwise the agency would use information from peer-reviewed research completed in 2003 by Drs. D.W. Berman and K.S. Crump. Their study established exposure benchmarks for mesothelioma and lung cancer based on asbestos epidemiologic studies.

“They’ve taken that report and put it aside and won’t recognize it,” Sullivan said. “The question now becomes if we’re going to use the best available science.”

 Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by e-mail at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/news/local_montana/article_9b4882ba-e221-11de-bbd6-001cc4c002e0.html
 
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Navy: We will defer on Hangar One

In response to a letter and phone calls from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says that the Navy will not remove the siding from Moffett Field's historic Hangar One until the White House makes a decision on its restoration.

"It is my intention that no siding will be removed from the hangar until the arbitration process has concluded," Mabus writes. "Once OMB's decision has been made, the Navy will work with all parties to ensure that the 30 month remediation effort supports future plans for Hangar One."

The Navy is responsible for toxic cleanup of Hangar One's asbestos- and PCB-laden siding, while NASA Ames is the owner of the property and would like to see the structure re-used.

The two agencies asked the White House Office of Management and Budget to make a decision on how the hangar would be restored after negotiations broke down over funding for the restoration project, which could cost over $15 million.

Two weeks ago the Navy made a surprise announcement that it was awarding a contract to remove the siding regardless of the OMB's decision, which drew criticism from Eshoo as well as the city of Mountain View, the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board and local preservationists. The concern is that leaving Hangar One as a bare skeleton would cause irreversible corrosion damage to its steel frame.

Mabus said de-skinning the Hangar wouldn't begin for at least six months.

"We are sensitive to the desires of the city and recognize the historic significance of Hangar One to the local area," he wrote.

"I'm extremely pleased with the Secretary's letter," Eshoo said in a press release. "Our conversations have been very productive and I'm pleased that he is committed to a remediation plan that supports future plans for Hangar One."

"It is clear that the Secretary will not allow any siding to come down until the Office of Management and Budget has issued a decision," she said.

http://www.mv-voice.com/news/show_story.php?id=2022

 
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Web Posted: 10/01/2009 7:43 CDT

Asbestos possible from Tesoro refinery fire

The coker unit at Tesoro Corp.’sWilmington refinery nearLos Angeles that caught fire on Sept. 25 may have debris contaminated with asbestos, a state regulator told Bloomberg News.

“It appears there is the possibility of asbestos presence in the debris from the fire,” said Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Tesoro spokesman Lynn Westfall declined to comment.

The refinery fire “centered on the facility’s coker unit,” Tesoro said late last month. A coker uses extreme heat and pressure to co

http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/63188902.html

 
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Asbestos sufferers angered by new revelations

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 25/08/2009

Reporter: Matt Peacock

Asbestos support groups across the country were angered by revelations that the hessian bags used to transport James Hardie’s asbestos for many years were later recycled with some ending up as carpet underfelt in many Australian homes. But it's not the only potential domestic hazard left by a company that for decades refused to warn those at risk of developing the fatal cancer, mesothelioma.

Transcript

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: There's been an angry reaction from asbestos support groups across the country to last night's 7.30 Report story that hessian bags used to transport James Hardie's asbestos for many years were later recycled - with some ending up as carpet underfelt in thousands and perhaps even tens of thousands of Australian homes.

But it's not the only potential domestic hazard left by a company, that for decades refused to warn those at risk of developing the fatal cancer, mesothelioma.

Matt Peacock reports.

JOHN DOWNES, FORMER BAG COLLECTOR: I used to go out to Hardie's and pick up all these bags. I wasn't told, "It's dangerous". It was fun to do it. Because we were getting paid for it.

There would be a powder left on the back of the truck, so you'd brush that down and take them, undo them, put them back in the rumble.

Well, say, four inches, three inches in the bottom. They wouldn't shake them out to get the best out of them. You could never get all the dust out. It's just impossible.

MATT PEACOCK, REPORTER: It's another warning James Hardie never gave, that its asbestos bags recycled as carpet underfelt, might kill.

Last night's revelations on the 7.30 Report sparked outrage.

TANYA SEGELOV, LAWYER: The biggest problem with the carpet underlay is you can't see it, and you don't know it's there. It's not labelled, there's no warning on it, so people will rip it up unknowingly. It doesn't give people the chance to take any precautions. That's our biggest fear: is that people today will still be exposed because they don't know it's asbestos.

JOHN BOYLE, PRIEST: I don't think they can own their own mistakes, I think it's gone right over their head that they're responsible for the deaths of thousands and thousands of people.

MATT PEACOCK: Recycled bags weren't the only public hazard. This was James Hardie's main Camellia factory nearSydney'sParramatta, where Father John Boyle's father worked. Like many of his colleagues, he brought the asbestos tailings home for the family driveway.

JOHN BOYLE: In that garage we laid this floor, not concrete but this asbestos floor. It's very easy to make because you box it up, you pour the - what I'm calling tailings, that's the fluff, the material, the leftover from making those pipes and Fibrelite that they were making - you hose it with water, and stamp it down, and overnight it sets really like cement.

MATT PEACOCK: Father Boyle's mother Molly died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, and one likely cause, the driveway she used to sweep.

JOHN BOYLE: I have got the pleural plaques myself, not that that is anything in itself, because lots of people aroundParramatta would have that asbestos-related indication that they've been exposed to asbestos at some time in their life.

A long the way, however, it can develop into mesothelioma, so I'm fairly apprehensive about that. I feel sometimes like a dead man walking.

PETER RUSSELL, FORMER JAMES HARDIE SAFETY OFFICER: Most of the employees found it as a convenient material to put on their driveways. I know their wives used to complain about the dust coming through the window as the cars drove past.

MATT PEACOCK: Nearly 40 years ago, Hardie's own safety officer Peter Russell warned the company of the likely carnage ahead.

PETER RUSSELL: Well, my report said, "Look, millions of people throughout the world are being exposed to a problem, a health problem, to which they are unaware". I said, "This is basically genocide, it's genocide against a race of asbestos workers". I basically said, "We have a tiger by the tail, and we have to have the guts to let it go.

MATT PEACOCK: But it was another 15 years before the company finally abandoned the mineral that brought it so much wealth.

NowAustralia is experiencing a wave of asbestos disease that has spread beyond the factory gates.

TANYA SEGELOV: We are seeing more and more people who have been exposed either through home renovations, bystanders to home renovations or incidental exposures such as through bags or other asbestos in the environment, which was used on driveways, and dumped in the environment. We are seeing more and more people exposed in that way.

MATT PEACOCK: For Bernie Banton's lawyer Tanya Segelov, it's the new asbestos victims exposed at home that are the greatest worry today.

TANYA SEGELOV: You don't need a lot of exposure to get mesothelioma. We don't know how little. It can be a very minor exposure such as helping to rip up carpet and polish floorboards and getting rid of bags or handling bags that were then reused in marketplaces. So you have people in fruit markets, banana growers and other people who have been exposed from the bags.

We have seen these cases.

MATT PEACOCK: James Hardie today declined to comment on the dangers posed by the recycled asbestos bags, other than stating: "When the asbestos compensation fund was established, it was known that hessian bags were recycled for multiple purposes and this was taken into consideration".

Today's epidemic of asbestos disease could easily have been avoided, according to Hardie's own safety officer, who sounded a warning nearly 40 years ago.

PETER RUSSELL: My last sentence in the report was, "This is murder, and I am not prepared to be an accomplice".

MATT PEACOCK: But that is cold comfort for those now battling disease.

JOHN DOWNES: The first doctor said, "You worked with asbestos", and I said, "Yeah". I went to him, he looked at the CT scan and all he said was, "You see all that? You know your case I could give you seven years". Well, I nearly collapsed in the surgery.


I didn't know I had it. I thought I had bronchitis or something, or pneumonia. The specialist said, when I, you know, as it gets on, that it will open up and you'll just smother in your own ... because the outer casing kills you. There's nothing there to hold your lungs in.

You wonder what kind of a thing is it, like an octopus or something like that. It just keeps on crawling.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2009/s2666699.htm

 
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Recently in Disease and research Category

Research centre pledge..but payout fight goes on

By Emily Cook on Jul 22, 09 10:41 AM in Campaign updates

THE Daily Mirror won a victory for workers last night with our Asbestos Timebomb campaign.

Jack Straw said he wants to set up a national research centre to study asbestos-related illnesses - one of our key demands.

But there was disappointment as thousands of victims of pleural plaques were left waiting to hear if they will get compensation.

The Justice Secretary told MPs he wants to make theUK a "global leader" in research and treatment of conditions caused by asbestos. He also said he wants to speed up compensation claims for those who develop serious illnesses such as mesothelioma.

But on the key issue of getting cash for people suffering pleural plaques, he said there would be no decision until after summer.

http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/asbestos-campaign/2009/07/research-centre-pledgebut-payo.html

 
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U.S. Cites Emergency inAsbestos-PoisonedTown

By CORNELIA DEAN

Published: June 17, 2009

The Environmental Protection Agency declared a public health emergency on Wednesday in and nearLibby,Mont., where over the course of decades asbestos contamination in a vermiculite mine has left hundreds of people dead or sickened from lung diseases.

It was the first health emergency ever declared under the Superfund law, the 1980 statute that governs sites contaminated or threatened by hazardous substances. The Libby site has been designated a Superfund priority since 2002.

A spokeswoman for the E.P.A. said that in anticipation of the declaration, the Department of Health and Human Services had agreed to make $6 million available to the Lincoln County Health Clinic, which provides care to residents of the area, to finance treatment of people with asbestos-related conditions. She said the declaration also authorized the environmental agency to remove vermiculite, whose uses include insulating, from buildings there.

In addition, she said, the agency will begin an effort to inform Americans generally about the risks of insulation made from vermiculite, a natural silicate mineral that forms in flakes. She said that it was not known how many homes nationally contained asbestos-contaminated vermiculite but that estimates ran into the tens of millions.

Vermiculite flakes puff up like popcorn when heated. Because the mineral is chemically inert, fire-resistant, lightweight and odorless, it was once widely used in insulation that was typically poured loosely between attic floor joists or between wall studs.

The Libby mine, originally operated by the Zonolite Company, at one time provided 80 percent of the nation’s vermiculite insulation, according to the E.P.A. W.R. Grace & Company bought the mine in 1963 and, according to the agency, sold vermiculite insulation from there until 1983.

Grace closed the mine in 1990. The company and three of its former executives were acquitted in federal court last month of charges that they had knowingly contaminated Libby with asbestos and then conspired to cover up the deed.

Grace agreed last year to pay the federal government $250 million for cleanup efforts around the mining site. At least 200 people have died of asbestos-related diseases, with hundreds more sickened, in and around Libby, a town of about 2,600 people inMontana’s northwestern corner.

The E.P.A. offers information on dealing with vermiculite insulation at www.epa.gov/region1/enforcement/asbestos/qa.html. The agency recommends that homeowners who have vermiculite insulation assume that it is asbestos-contaminated.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/18/science/earth/18libby.html?_r=1

 
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Iraq,Afghanistan Vets Sue KBR

by maha - Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 04:52:43 AM PST

As we approach another 4th of July weekend, there are news stories about veterans returning fromIraq andAfghanistan who are suffering terrible diseases because of exposure to "burn pits." These burn pits are not some fiendish enemy weapon. They are the creation of contractors hired to "support the troops," paid with  American taxpayer dollars.

Massive open-air pits in Iraq and Afghanistan are used to incinerate medical waste, including human body parts; garbage, plastics; lithium batteries; unexploded ordnance; miscellaneous hardware; gas cans; entire humvees; and building rubble, including asbestos insulation. The burn pits generate black, toxic smoke breathed daily by military men and women serving in the area.

Katie Connolly reports forNewsweek that about 200 veterans have joined in a lawsuit against KBR, Inc. KBR is the former Kellogg Brown & Root, at one time a subsidiary of Halliburton, of which former Vice President Dick Cheney was once CEO. KBR employs more American private contractors and holds a larger contract with theU.S. government than does any other firm inIraq, according to Wikipedia. By October 2003, seven months after the beginning of the military action inIraq, KBR's bill to taxpayers had already reached $1.6 billion. There was no readily available tally of the total value of contracts with KBR since.

The veterans say KBR is responsible for the vast burn pits that left them with a host of diseases, including kidney disease, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory diseases, painful skin conditions, multiple cancers, heart disease, debilitating headaches, and neurological problems. One of the plaintiffs is the widow of an Iraq War veteran who died last year of a brain tumor.

The Pentagon all along has taken the position that the burn pits are not a health hazard. However, recently a board of military doctors atTriplerArmyMedicalCenter inHawaii decided that the complex of diseases suffered by Spc. Edward Adams, 33, "is probably related to the burn pits inIraq."Army Times writer Kelly Kennedy reports that Spc. Adams was quartered downwind from a burn pit from July 2006 to October 2007. An MRI revealed that his lungs were filled with tiny black holes, cystic lesions that at times have left him unable to breathe on his own.

Kennedy also writes that "annual cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among service members have risen 82 percent since 2001, to 24,555 last year, while cases of all other respiratory illnesses have risen 37 percent, to 28,276, Defense Department data show."

Those veterans whose health is not yet compromised may still face consequences of the burn pits. Even decades from now, exposure to asbestos fibers from insulation thrown into the burn pits could develop into mesothelioma, an especially deadly form of lung cancer.

KBR's work inIraq has come under fire for reasons other than the burn pits. A Senate oversight committee has charged that faulty installation of electrical units in shower facilities resulted in the death of at least one soldier, Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, who was electrocuted while showing at the Radwaniyah Palace Complex inBaghdad. Several other soldiers have died of electrocution, allegedly from improperly grounded electrical units installed by KBR.

In both cases -- the burn pits and the electrical hazards -- the Department of Defense has made excuses and denied the problem. This suggests the DoD is more concerned about the welfare of contractors than the welfare of soldiers, which is a concern in itself.

Two members of Congress, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), are promoting a bill called the Military Personnel War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act. The bill would require the DoD to identify soldiers at risk from the burn pits and investigate the effects of the burn pits. It also would prohibit the military from disposing of waste in a way that produces a dangerous level of toxins. Support of this bill is the least we can do for our military serving inIraq andAfghanistan.

Throughout our history Americans often have disagreed whether a particular war or military action was justified. But whatever our individual opinions, the fact remains that the soldiers and sailors who have fought inU.S. wars have done so because We, the People through our representative government have asked them to.

Beneath the usually self-serving political rhetoric about "supporting the troops" is a genuine responsibility we citizens owe to those serving in the military. William Tecumseh Sherman's "war is hell" (or, rather, "There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell"), no doubt will be true as long as there is war. The troops risking our lives on our behalf deserve more than our negligence.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/7/4/749844/-Iraq,-Afghanistan-Vets-Sue-KBR

 
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Asbestos campaign exclusive: Links to ovarian cancer and cancer of the larynx confirmed

By Emily Cook on May 26, 09 02:06 PM in Disease and research

John-Edwards-260509.jpg

Asbestos exposure can cause ovarian cancer and cancer of the larynx, experts have confirmed.

The warning comes from a group of 27 World Health Organisation scientists.

They also say there is "limited evidence" that the fibre can raise the risk of cancers of the bowel, the stomach and the throat.

It is already established that asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma - cancer of the lining of the lung or abdomen and lung cancer.

http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/asbestos-campaign/2009/05/asbestos-campaign-exclusive-li.html#more

 
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Journal of Environmental and Public Health

Volume 2009 (2009), Article ID 189509, 10 pages

doi:10.1155/2009/189509

 

 Research Article

   

An Evaluation of Potential Occupational Exposure to Asbestiform Amphiboles near a Former Vermiculite Mine

   

Julie F. Hart,1 Terry M. Spear,1 Tony J. Ward,2 Caitlan E. Baldwin,1 Marissa N. Salo,1 andMohamedI. Elashheb1

 

1Department of Safety, Health, and Industrial Hygiene,Montana Tech of TheUniversity ofMontana, 1300 W.Park Street,Butte,MT59701,USA

2Center for Environmental Health Sciences, TheUniversity ofMontana,Missoula,MT59812,USA

 

Received 15 May 2009; Accepted 10 September 2009

 

Academic Editor: Bruce Case

 

Copyright © 2009 Julie F. Hart et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

 

Abstract

 

Amphibole asbestos (AA) has been detected on the surface of tree bark in forests neighboring an abandoned vermiculite mine nearLibby,Montana. In the present study, simulations were performed to assess potential AA exposure associated with United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (FS) occupational activities. Bark samples were collected prior, and personal breathing zone (PBZ) and Tyvek clothing wipe samples were collected during and immediately after trials that simulated FS activities. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analyses revealed AA bark concentrations up to 15 million structures per square centimeter (s/cm2). AA was detected in 25% of the PBZ TEM samples. AA was detected on wipe samples collected from all activities evaluated.  This research demonstrates the potential for airborne exposure and transport of AA in theKootenaiNational Forest. These findings are especially relevant to those that work in the area and to the general public who may conduct recreational activities.

 

1. Introduction

 

Libby,Montana (population ~2700, with nearly 12 000 in the surrounding area) is located in northwestMontana and was once home to one of the world’s largest vermiculite mines. While the Libby vermiculite had useful insulating and soil conditioning properties, ore from the mine (in operation from the 1920s–1990) was contaminated with fibrous and nonasbestiform amphiboles in veins throughout the deposit [1]. Approximately 30–40% of the amphiboles are asbestiform and include winchite, richterite, tremolite, and magnesioriebeckite; differing in their relative proportions of cations (Mg, Ca, Fe, Na, K) [2–7].  

 

Over 70 years of mining amphibole-contaminated vermiculite has led to amphibole asbestos (AA) contamination in areas surrounding the abandoned mine and in other areas throughout the town. Libby was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Priorities List in October 2002. In 2005, researchers discovered that trees surrounding the former vermiculite mine served as reservoirs for AA [8]. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis of bark samples from trees near the vermiculite mine yielded amphibole fiber concentrations in excess of 100 million amphibole structures per square centimeter of bark surface (s/cm2). Contamination has also been identified in trees near transportation corridors where vermiculite was transported from Libby to processing facilities around the country [8].

 

In 2006, research was conducted to assess potential exposure to AA associated with harvesting firewood within the EPA-restricted zone [9]. Personal breathing zone (PBZ) and Tyvek clothing wipe samples revealed that AA was liberated from tree bark during harvesting tasks and that a potential exists for direct inhalation exposure and clothing contamination.

 

In September, 2007, EPA and W.R. Grace entered into an agreement to determine the nature and extent of contamination and any threat to the public health, welfare, and the environment caused by the release or threatened release of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants at or from the former mine site. In 2007/2008 EPA contractors collected bark samples from forested areas surrounding the former mine site and found AA bark contamination ranging from less than the limit of detection (LOD) to 20 million s/cm2. AA contamination on tree bark extends several kilometers (km) from the mine site outside of the EPA restricted zone [10].

 

Occupational exposure to AA is associated with significant increases in asbestosis, lung cancer, and pleural cancer compared to the rest of theU.S. population [11]. High incidences of asbestos-related disease have been reported in former mine and mill workers [12–14]. While asbestos-related disease in the general Libby population has also been reported, risk associated with lower level exposures has not been as clearly defined.  Medical testing of persons who lived or worked in the Libby area for at least six months before 1991 showed pleural abnormalities (calcifications, thickenings, or plaques) in 17.8% of 6668 participants [15]. Although the focus of the [15] study was to describe lung abnormalities in the general Libby population, significant factors for predicting pleural abnormalities included occupational pathways [16]. Additional occupational and nonoccupational mesothelioma cases have been identified since the end of the last follow-up [17–19], and current mortality figures indicate one new case per year inLincoln County,Montana. For the last five-year period for which figures are available (2000–2004), there were five mesothelioma deaths (two female) in Lincoln County, making it the third-highest county in the USA in terms of age-adjusted death rate per million population at 56.1 [20].

 

 Much of the land surrounding the former vermiculite mine is owned by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and private logging companies. USDA Forest Service (FS) personnel frequently travel on roadways and trails in the Kootenai forest. To date, there have been no occupational exposure assessments of FS employees pertaining to AA. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the potential for occupational AA exposure as a result of FS activities in theKootenaiNational Forest. The potential for AA exposure was evaluated through the analysis of PBZ samples and Tyvek clothing wipe samples collected during and immediately after trials that simulate FS tasks.

2. Material and Methods

2.1. Preliminary Work

 

Preliminary work for this research was conducted in the fall of 2007. Investigators met with FS personnel and discussed tasks typically performed (and roadways and trail systems most commonly used) in areas within an 8 km radius of the former vermiculite mine. In addition, prevailing wind data via a Windrose were obtained [21].

 

Tree bark samples were also collected during this time to determine if AA contamination was present in areas frequented by FS personnel near the former vermiculite mine, but outside of the EPA’s restricted zone, and within prevailing wind locations from the mine. Bark samples were collected from several tree species: Tamarack (Larix laricina), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) employing [8] methods. The location of each tree sampled was identified and recorded using a Garmen Etrex 12 channel global positioning system (GPS). A minimum of one 200 gram bark sample was collected from two sides of each tree approximately 1.2 m from the base. The bark was collected by prying off sections with a small pry bar and placing them in labeled plastic bags. The bags were then sealed and the pry bar was cleaned with a wet wipe after each collection. The bark samples were preserved for later analysis by TEM.

 

The activities selected for evaluation included driving on roadways, walking through forested areas, performing tree measurement activities, performing trail maintenance, and constructing a fire line. Tree measurement, trail maintenance, and fire line construction activities were demonstrated by FS personnel in an area with no known AA contamination. Tree measurement tasks are typically performed by at least two foresters in a plot of 10–12 trees. Tree diameter is measured with diameter tape. Tree height is then measured by securing loggers tape to the tree surface approximately 1.2 m from the ground and walking while unrolling the tape 9–15 m away from the tree. A clinometer is then used to indirectly measure tree height. Along with tree diameter and tree height, tree measurement activities usually include visually evaluating all the trees in the plot for disease.

 

Fire line construction is performed by a minimum of four foresters. The objective of the fire line is to construct a 1-2 m fuel break with combustible materials cleared to a mineral soil base.  The type of fire line constructed, flat scrape or cup trench, is dependent on the slope grade. The first task performed in fire line construction is removal of trees and brush. This is performed by a chainsaw operator and a brush clearer. A Pulaski tool, a comby (combination) tool, and/or a Rogue hoe are then used to clear vegetation approximately 30–35 cm to mineral soil.

 

Trail maintenance activities are similar to fire line construction in that a chainsaw operator and brush clearer remove vegetation growth from the trail; however, the trail is not cleared to mineral grade soil. Trail maintenance also involves a wider corridor 2-3 m, and trees are limbed with the chainsaw to a height of 2.4 m to allow for transportation by horseback.

 

FS personnel do not currently employ the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) beyond level D when performing field tasks in the Kootenai forest. Therefore, the tasks typically conducted by FS personnel were simulated by the research team. In an effort to minimize risks associated with the task simulations, FS personnel provided training on vehicle safety procedures, emergency radio communication, procedures for minimizing hunting related risks, and procedures for wild animal encounters. The investigators were also issued a radio for emergency communication. The investigators were suited in level C PPE while performing task simulations. This PPE consisted of hooded Tyvek coveralls, neoprene gloves, Tyvek booties, a half mask air purifying respirator with P100 filters, work boots, hard hat, and orange reflective vests (during hunting season only). All investigators obtained medical clearance to wear negative pressure respiratory protection and passed quantitative fit tests within the past year. This project was approved by theUniversity ofMontana’s Institutional Review Board for the Use of Human Subjects in Research.

 

The PPE selected for this research presented a potential heat stress risk to the investigators. This risk was minimized by conducting the task simulations in the early morning and evening hours. In addition, task durations associated with the most physical simulation, fire line construction, were minimized and adequate fluid intake and work breaks were emphasized.

2.2. Research Methods

 

Simulations were performed in July of 2008. The meteorological conditions during the sampling period included temperatures from 15.8 to 25.5 °C, 20%–24% humidity, and wind speeds from 8–18 km per hour. Morning dew condensation on vegetation was observed during early morning trials, but no measured precipitation was reported.

 

Two simulation trials each were performed for the following tasks: (1) driving on FS roads, (2) walking through forested areas, (3) tree measurement, and (4) fire line construction activities. In addition, one trail maintenance activity was performed. One driving simulation was also conducted in November of 2007, when preliminary data collection necessitated roadway driving. All of the simulations were conducted on FS land north and east of the former mine and EPA-restricted zone (Figure 1). 

189509.fig.001

Figure 1: Map illustrating the location of Forest Service activity task simulations in relation to the former vermiculite mine. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Roadways 4872 and 401 and Rainy Divide Trail/Loop 12S are identified. Simulation activities are identified via the following symbols: fire line construction: triangle; tree measurement: square; walking: circle; and trail maintenance: star.

 

Potential AA exposure was assessed via PBZ sampling and Tyvek clothing wipe sampling for all tasks with the exception of roadway driving. The roadways selected for the roadway driving task include FS Roads 4872 and 401 (Figure 1). Prior to driving up these roadways from paved access ways, a 10×10 cm disposableManila template was secured to the rear vehicle bumper with duct tape. The template was then wiped three times with SKC Ghost wipes premoistened with deionized water. These wipes were then discarded and a 4th wipe was used to gather a pretravel vehicle wipe. The wipe sampling protocol followed the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D 6480-05 procedures, Wipe Sampling for Settled Asbestos [22].  This 4th wipe was placed in a labeled plastic bag and sealed. The vehicle was then driven to the terminal destination (Figure 1) and parked while the investigators got out of the vehicle and performed other task simulations. Other task simulations were conducted at least eight meters from the vehicle. Investigators then returned to the vehicle and drove down the roadways to the same location where the pretravel vehicle wipe was collected. A posttravel vehicle wipe sample, employing the methods described above, was then collected and placed in a labeled plastic bag and sealed.  The wipe samples were analyzed for asbestos per ASTM’s D 6480-05 Method, TEM Asbestos Analysis [22] by ALS Laboratories (Cincinnati,OH), a laboratory accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) (PCM), the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) (TEM), and the New York State Department of Health Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (PCM and TEM). Wipe samples submitted included ten percent field blanks.

 

The total distances driven for the FS Roadway 4872 and 401 activities were 25 and 21 km, respectively. The average vehicle speed was 16–24 km per hour. Other vehicle traffic, ahead of the test vehicle, was noted for the November roadway driving assessment, and no other vehicle traffic was observed during the remaining roadway driving activities. 

 

PBZ samples were collected during the walking, tree measurement, fire line construction, and trail maintenance simulation trials using conductive three piece asbestos sampling cassettes. The cassettes contained 25 mm 0.8 micron (μm) pore size mixed cellulose ester membrane filters. SKC Aircheck 224 sampling pumps were calibrated before and after each trial with a Bios Defender 520 primary flow meter at an average flow rate of three liters per minute (L/min). Throughout each trial, each investigator wore a sampling pump with the asbestos cassette placed in the breathing zone. PBZ samples were analyzed for fibers per National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Manual of Analytical Method (NMAM) 7400, Asbestos and Other Fibers by phase contrast microscopy (PCM) [23], and for asbestos per EPA’s Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act’s (AHERA), Airborne Asbestos by TEM [24]. AHERA requires selected area electron diffraction and energy dispersive X-ray analysis to determine mineral type and elemental composition (asbestos types). Fibers classified as “actinolite/tremolite” also included the winchite/richterite fibers characterized by Meeker et al. [6]. Asbestos structures greater than 0.5 μm long with an aspect ratio (length : width) greater than or equal to 5:1 are recorded in the AHERA analysis. Data were reported as the concentration of asbestos structures less than (<) 5 μm long and the concentration of asbestos structures greater than or equal to (≥) 5 μm long. All air samples were analyzed by ALS Laboratories. PBZ samples submitted included ten percent field blanks.

 

In addition to PBZ sampling, surface wipe sampling of the outer layer of Tyvek clothing was conducted at the conclusion of each walking, tree measurement, fire line construction, and trail maintenance simulation trial. The wipe sampling protocol followed the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTMs) D 6480-05 procedures, Wipe Sampling for Settled Asbestos [22].  Wipes were collected with SKC Ghost wipes premoistened with deionized water. A 10 by 10 cm SKC disposable Manila paper template was used for each wipe. A wipe sample was gathered on each investigator’s chest, forearm, and shin. The site of the chest, forearm, and shin sample (right/left) was randomly selected. The three wipe samples collected for each investigator were submitted for analysis as a composite sample. In addition to the postsimulation trial wipes collected, presimulation trial wipes and ten percent field blanks were collected and analyzed. The wipe samples were analyzed for asbestos per ASTM’s D 6480-05 Method, TEM Asbestos Analysis [22] by ALS. 

 

The average duration of each activity simulation was 66 minutes. The fire line construction activities were conducted for 31–42 minutes and the remaining task durations were 70–90 minutes. The fire line activity was shorter in duration simply because of the physical nature of the task. An effort was made to minimize potential overloading of the PBZ filters and, as described above, a shorter duration was selected for the fire line construction activities to minimize potential heat stress hazards to the investigators. 

 

FS personnel loaned the research team equipment in order to perform task simulations. The tools included a new Stihl Model MS361 chainsaw, Pulaski tool, comby tool, diameter tape, clinometer, and forester tape. These tools were wiped with wet wipes prior to and immediately after each simulation trial. At the conclusion of the fire line construction and trail maintenance trials, and prior to equipment cleaning, one wipe sample was collected on the chainsaw bar. The wipe samples were collected using the methods described above and placed in labeled bags and sealed. The wipe samples were analyzed for asbestos per ASTM’s D 6480-05 Method, TEM Asbestos Analysis [22] by ALS. 

 

A minimum of two investigators conducted the walking simulation trials. The tree measurement simulation trials were conducted by three investigators; two investigators conducted tree diameter and height measurements, while the third investigator served as the data recorder. Fire line construction simulation trails were conducted with five investigators; one investigator each served as a chainsaw operator, brush clearer, Pulaski tool operator, comby tool operator, and data recorder. Five investigators conducted the trail maintenance simulation trials; one served as a chainsaw operator, three served as brush clearers, and one was the data recorder.

 

All simulation activities were performed within a 4.8 km radius of the former vermiculite mine. Fire line construction simulations were conducted near the Rainy Divide stock trail head (12S) and in a forested area northwest of FS roadway 4872. Tree measurement simulation activities were performed in the Alexander Test Site and in a forested area northwest of FS roadway 4872. Trail maintenance simulation activities were performed on the Rainy Divide Trail (12S). Walking activities were performed in the forested area northwest of FS roadway 4872 and Rainy Divide Trail (12S). The location of each simulation trial in relation to the former vermiculite mine is illustrated in Figure 1. The area selected for the majority of the simulations, near roadway 4872, is accessible by vehicle travel for approximately 8 km up roadway 4872 from the paved roadway (228) (Figure 1). Past this point, the roadway is currently restricted to general public vehicle traffic but may be accessed by nonmechanized means or FS vehicles.  The Rainy Divide stock trail head (12S) is available for general public and FS travel from the northern section of roadway 401 (Figure 1).

3. Results

3.1. Tree Bark Sampling Results

 

Seven bark samples collected from trees northeast of the former vermiculite mine showed substantial AA contamination, ranging from 37 thousand to 15 million structures/cm2 of bark surface area (Table 1). These concentrations are consistent with AA contamination in tree bark previously reported by Ward et al. [8]. Fiber dimension analyses of the bark samples revealed that the majority of the asbestos fibers detected were <5 μm long. Fibers exhibited mineral characteristics consistent with Libby amphiboles. Amphibole fibers were not detected in bark sample collected from theMissoula,MT tree (control).

tab1

Table 1: Tree bark sample results—Forest Service land northeast of the former vermiculite mine.

3.2. PBZ Sampling Results

 

PBZ samples collected during the FS simulation activities were analyzed for asbestos by both PCM and by AHERA TEM. Table 2 presents individual sample and Mean PBZ air sampling results, reported for each simulation activity (fire line construction, tree measurement, trail maintenance, and walking) as well as by the task(s) associated with the activity. Mean concentrations were calculated by using a value of zero for nondetect concentrations. In terms of TEM mean concentrations, this method may reflect an uncertain estimate of true mean and actual risks may be higher or lower [25]. Fibers were observed on all samples analyzed by PCM, excluding field blanks.

tab2

Table 2: PBZ data reported by activity performed, task associated with activity, PCM and TEM individual, and mean sample concentrations.

 

The current occupational 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) exposure limit for asbestos is 0.1 fiber per mL for fibers >5 μm long, with an aspect ratio greater than or equal to 3:1, as determined by PCM (OSHA, ACGIH, 2001). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended that exposure limit for asbestos is identical except that it is based on a 10-hour TWA (NIOSH). In addition to the TWA permissible exposure limit, OSHA has defined an excursion limit of 1.0 fiber per mL averaged over a sampling period of 30 minutes. 

 

For individual PBZ FS simulation trial samples for fibers >5 μm, 10 of 24 samples (forty-two percent) exceeded the OSHA exposure limit of 0.1 fiber per mL, assuming an eight-hour exposure duration, when analyzed by PCM. These 10 PBZ samples were all collected during the fire line construction simulation activity.

 

A substantial portion of cellulose (from forest vegetation) fibers was expected in PCM analyses; therefore, AHERA TEM analyses were performed to describe the fiber population. In terms of fiber counts reported by the laboratory (not shown in Table 2), one to five nonasbestos fibers (organic, gypsum) were identified on all PBZ AHERA TEM samples. Twenty-five percent of the PBZ samples revealed concentrations greater than the analytical sensitivity (AS) when analyzed by AHERA TEM. These samples were collected during the fire line construction and tree measurement simulation activities. AHERA TEM analyses for the concentration of asbestos fibers >5 μm revealed that none of the samples collected exceeded the OSHA PEL, assuming an 8-hour exposure duration (not shown in Table 2).

 

Although the simulations for each task were conducted in two separate geographical areas (Figure 1), no differences in PBZ concentrations were observed for each simulation based on the area that the simulation activity was conducted (not shown in Table 2). 

 

The tasks that revealed PBZ concentrations greater than the AS for the fire line construction activity were brush clearer (2 of 2 samples) and Pulaski tool operator (2 of 2 samples). Two of five tree maintenance activity samples revealed concentrations greater than the AS.  One of the walking activity PBZ samples revealed chrysotile asbestos (not shown in Table 2). Chrysotile asbestos is not part of the amphibole family, and this PBZ sample contamination may have been derived from sources other than the vermiculite mine.  

 

A review of the scanning electron microscope (SEM) energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) spectra (not shown) for PBZ samples with detectable amphibole asbestos revealed measurable amounts of sodium and potassium in 100% of the samples. Recent research has demonstrated that amphiboles originating from the vermiculite deposit contain sodium and potassium that can be observed in the SEM-EDS spectra [5].

3.3. Wipe Sampling Results

 

Surface wipe sampling of the outer layer of Tyvek clothing was conducted at the conclusion of each activity simulation trial. These wipe samples were analyzed for asbestos fibers by TEM, with summary results presented in Table 3. All of the field blank and preactivity Tyvek wipe samples showed no asbestos contamination and were below the AS (448 structures per cm2) for the D 6480-05 TEM method. Fifty-two percent of postactivity wipe samples revealed concentrations greater than the AS. While the concentrations of AA were associated with the fire line construction activity, AA was detected on wipe samples collected from all of the activities evaluated. 

tab3

Table 3: Clothing wipe sample data reported by activity performed, task associated with activity, individual, and mean TEM concentrations.

 

The tasks that revealed wipe sample concentrations greater than the AS for the fire line construction activity were brush clearer (1 of 1 sample), comby tool operator (1 of 2 samples), and Pulaski tool operator (2 of 2 samples). Four of the five tree measurement activity samples revealed concentrations greater than the AS. Two of three trail maintenance brush clearer and one of one trail maintenance chainsaw operator samples was greater than the AS, while one of five walking samples were greater than the AS. As noted with one PBZ walking sample, one of the walking activity wipe samples (not reported) revealed chrysotile asbestos. As noted previously, chrysotile asbestos is not part of the amphibole family. However, fibers and bundles with split ends resembling commercial grade asbestos have been identified but are not common in the Rainy Creek Complex nearLibby,Montana [6].

 

The pre- and post- travel vehicle wipes collected for the FS 4872 vehicle driving activity simulations revealed concentrations below the AS for both the November and July trials. The pretravel vehicle wipe collected for the FS 401 vehicle driving activity simulation was also reported below the AS, while the posttravel wipe sample revealed one amphibole fiber resulting in a concentration of 17 917 s/cm2. The amphibole fiber detected was less than 5 μm long.

 

Postactivity chainsaw bar wipe sample results are presented in Table 4. AA was detected on the chainsaw bar after all of the simulation activities. In terms of structure counts reported by the laboratory, 12 of 15 fibers were less than 5 μm long (not shown).

tab4

Table 4: Postactivity TEM chainsaw bar wipe sample results reported as concentration of amphibole asbestos <5 microns long, >5 microns long, and total structures per square centimeter.

 

A SEM-EDS spectra (not shown) for all wipe samples (clothing, equipment, vehicle) with detectable amphibole asbestos revealed measurable amounts of sodium and potassium in 73% of the samples.

4. Conclusions

 

Results from the FS activity simulations conducted within this study indicate that an exposure to AA may exist when work is performed in theKootenaiNational Forest near the former vermiculite mine. Bark samples collected in the area where activity simulations were conducted revealed amphibole contamination ranging from 37 thousand to 15 million structures per cm2 of bark surface area. The lowest bark amphibole concentrations were observed in the Alexander Test Site, an area that was replanted after a timber harvest in the early 1990s as a research plot for Tamarack trees. It is worth noting that trees in this location were planted after the vermiculite mine ceased operations. Contamination of these trees may indicate more recent dispersion of amphibole fibers. The highest bark amphibole concentrations were observed in aged Douglas Fir trees on the Rainy Divide Trail.

 

In terms of inhalation exposure potential associated with the FS tasks evaluated, fire line construction and tree measurement activities yielded detectable AS TEM PBZ concentrations. Detectable AA concentrations were not observed with trail maintenance and walking activities. Of the fire line activity tasks evaluated, the Pulaski tool operator and the brush clearer yielded the highest PBZ concentrations. PBZ concentrations for these fire line activity tasks revealed detectable AA concentrations for two separate trials conducted in two separate geographical areas. Five PBZ samples were collected for the tree maintenance activity. Of these, three samples revealed detectable AA. These three samples were also collected in two separate trials conducted in two separate geographical areas.  In terms of individual fiber counts, fifty-seven percent of PBZ asbestos structures were <5 μm long. This is consistent with other research performed regarding amphibole asbestos in tree bark [8, 9].

 

It is worth noting that the operation of the Pulaski tool employed in fire line construction involves clearing vegetation to mineral grade soil. Therefore, it is unclear whether AA exposure associated with this task is derived from vegetation or soil sources.

 

In addition to the airborne exposure potential associated with FS activities, there is a potential for clothing and equipment contamination. Composite wipe samples collected from the investigators’ forearm, shin, and chest revealed detectable amphibole asbestos in fifty-two percent of the samples collected. Clothing contamination was observed in samples from each of the four activities evaluated: fire line construction, tree measurement, trail maintenance, and walking. In addition, the wipe samples collected from the chainsaw bar after each trial (n = 3) revealed amphibole contamination ranging from 896 to 11 825 s/cm2. Clothing and equipment contamination may serve as a secondary source of exposure to FS personnel. Cross contamination of vehicle cabs, vehicle boxes, equipment storage areas, equipment maintenance areas, and offices may occur as a result of clothing and equipment contamination. 

 

Although the objective of this study was to assess the potential exposure associated with FS occupational activities, the potential for public exposure to AA cannot be ignored. Libby and the surrounding area are known for clean water, beautiful scenery, and recreational activities such as hiking, hunting boating, and skiing. As noted earlier, the simulation areas are accessible to the general public. The frequency of recreational use by the general public was not evaluated in this study; however, hunters were observed near the simulation site during the bark collection phase of this study. In an effort to inform the public about the amphibole contamination in the Kootenai National Forest, FS management has published a brochure that outlines safeguards to minimize dust generation and transport of fibers on clothing.

 

The forested areas near the simulation sites were historically used for timber harvests as observed by numerous clear-cut plots. In the past, FS personnel visited the Alexander Test plot and areas accessible via roadways 4872 and 401 on a weekly basis. Since the awareness of amphibole contamination in tree bark, FS travel in this area has been reduced. In addition, fire fighting in this area is currently performed from the air only.

 

This research was funded as a small project/pilot study in order to assess potential FS exposure to AA. A limited number of samples were collected within a relatively small geographical area. Future research is planned to assess FS exposure potentials with the activities evaluated in this study throughout a range of meteorological conditions (i.e., different seasons) as well as other activities (i.e., fire fighting), in expanded radii from the former vermiculite mine. In addition, vehicle cabs, offices, and equipment storage and maintenance facilities should be evaluated for potential AA contamination.

5. Competing Interests

 

One of the authors (TMS) has served as an expert witness for plaintiffs’ attorneys in litigation involving asbestos exposure inLibby,MT.

 

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2009/189509.html

 
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WHO Claims Asbestos Linked to Ovarian Cancer

Posted on April 30th, 2009

by Deon Scott in All News

Many people are now aware that long term or high level exposure to asbestos dust and fibers that become airborne can cause a series of health problems, and this includes problems such as asbestosis, pleural plaques, respiratory problems, and more.

One of the more serious effects of this exposure to asbestos is a form of cancer known as mesothelioma. This can affect the lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma, the abdominal area, known as peritoneal mesothelioma, or the heart, known as pericardial mesothelioma.

However, according to a recent report one leading industry group has claimed that asbestos exposure is also linked to another type of cancer, ovarian cancer. The claim comes from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The International Agency for Research at WHO recently released a statement claiming that there was sufficient evidence to link asbestos exposure with ovarian cancer. In the past it has also linked this exposure with cancer of the larynx.

http://www.bloggernews.net/120644

 
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Asbestos Possibly Linked to Rocks inNorth Dakota

2009-04-16 00:57:16 (GMT) (Caymanmama.com - Mesothelioma News News)

Scientists are seeking to test the effects of abestos like mineral in rocks in North Dakota on health

Researchers lack participation for asbestos study onNorth Dakota rocks. Mesothelioma Cancer News report for mesothelioma cancer lawyers

Mesothelioma Cancer News –  Scientists are interested in learning more about the hazards associated with a mineral similar to asbestos that has been linked to cancer. As reported by the Associated Press (AP), researchers are having difficulty finding participants to volunteer for a study related to cancer risks associated with erionite, a mineral said to be used and contained in gravel on roads throughout westernNorth Dakota.

As noted by the AP,North Dakota health officials and the Environmental Protection Agency are seeking to perform testing on 50 individuals in the area who may have been exposed. They so far have less than 10 people willing to participate. Mark Dihle with the state’s health department is quoted in the report as stating, “We haven’t had quite the response we’re looking for.” The deadline for signing up to participate has been extended to June 12, and those who volunteer will be paid $100.

Photo Credit: Stan Zurek

http://www.caymanmama.com/2009/04/15/mesothelioma-lawyers-asbestos-possibly-linked-to-rocks_200904154492.html

 
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How an entire generation of carpenters has been blighted by asbestos cancer

By Mike Swain on Mar 4, 09 10:01 AM in History of Asbestos

carpenter 040309.jpg

The horrifying legacy of workers exposed to asbestos in the 60s can be revealed today.

Researchers have found one in 10 carpenters who were young men at that time will die from the disease.

Their fate was caused by health and safety blunders that led to millions of tonnes of asbestos being imported intoBritain.

Used in virtually every building site in the 60s and 70s, it was cut up by carpenters and spread into homes, schools, hospitals and offices without people realising it was dangerous.

Their risk of dying from mesothelioma is now one in 17 but they have just as high a risk of getting lung cancer - increasing the chances of death significantly.

The study found that one in 50 plumbers, electricians and painters and decorators born in the 40s will also die of mesothelioma and the same number again from lung cancer.

Professor Julian Peto, of Cancer ResearchUK which carried out the study, revealed: "Huge quantities of these asbestos materials were brought in fromSouth Africa.

"It was being sawed up on every building site without any control at all.

"It just wasn't appreciated that exposure was heavier and it was far larger numbers of people exposed. It was an error by science and society."

He added: "We have shown that the risk in some occupations, particularly the building industry, is higher than we previously thought.

"If you are exposed in your 20s you have a huge lifetime risk of mesothelioma."

Prof Peto contacted 622 mesothelioma patients in theUK through doctors and hospitals over five years.

The study, published today in the British Journal of Cancer, shows men born in the 40s who worked as carpenters for more than 10 years before they reached 30 have a lifetime risk of the disease of one in 17.

For plumbers, electricians and decorators born in the same decade who worked in the trade for more than 10 years before they were 30 the risk is one in 50 and for other construction workers it is one in 125.

http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/asbestos-campaign/2009/03/how-an-entire-generation-of-ca.html
 
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Asbestos: The dust of death set to kill 6,000 each year

By Mike Swain on Mar 2, 09 12:00 AM in History of Asbestos

lungs020309.jpg

The horror of one ofBritain's deadliest imports is about to be unleashed on those unwittingly exposed to its dangers.

Deaths from asbestos-related diseases could reach at least 200,000 - and many of the victims will not even be aware they are at risk until it is too late.

The shocking figures are the grim legacy of the millions of tons of the dust shipped toBritain to make homes, schools, offices and factories fire resistant.

Among those most at risk are carpenters, laggers, plumbers and electricians who worked on building sites around the country.

It is predicted more than 2,000 people a year will die from mesothelioma alone - a lung cancer caused by asbestos. Adding deaths from asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis, annual fatalities could reach 6,000.

One expert branded the rising number of deaths a "silent and working class epidemic" because of the nature of who it affects most.

The Daily Mirror today launches a campaign for those struck down by the killer dust.

Backed by doctors, union chiefs, charities and politicians, we are calling for a £10million national centre for asbestos diseases and better compensation for victims along with other demands.Sheffield lung surgeon John Edwards branded it "the number one public health disaster". And he demanded more funds for research.

http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/asbestos-campaign/2009/03/asbestos-the-dust-of-death-set.html

 
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