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Libby, Montana

Vermiculite mining in Libby, Montana began in the 1920s. Throughout much of the twentieth century, Libby was the primary source of vermiculite worldwide until the Libby vermiculite operations closed in 1990. The vermiculite ore mined in Libby contains amphibole asbestos and other elongate mineral fibers. In 1999, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was asked by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to evaluate human health concerns in Libby that were related to asbestos exposure. DHHS was acting on requests received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Montana Congressional delegation.

Since that time, ATSDR has worked closely with the community on a number of projects and activities.

Scenic photo near Libby, Montana
A scenic photo shot near Libby, Montana.

More Pictures of Libby, click here.

Overview of ATSDR Activities in Libby

ATSDR has conducted and continues to conduct a number of activities related to asbestos and Libby. They include:

Department of Health and Human Services Agencies Involved in Libby

Other HHS agencies also made a major commitment to the Libby community and continue to provide support.

The Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) http://www.hrsa.gov/ awarded funds for a community health center (CHC) in Libby. The CHC will provide primary care services for all of Lincoln County. Its focus is on providing selected primary care services to those in the community who are medically underserved. According to HRSA officials, the CHC should receive at least $400,000 per year and can continue in perpetuity. The CHC is governed by a community board that decides on services and treatments to be provided through the clinic.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) http://www.samhsa.gov/ will provide $80,000 to the hospital for psychological and social services, education, and outreach for those affected by asbestos-related problems. The initial contract is for one year and started in August, 2001. Designation as a "Health Professional Shortage Area" (HPSA) makes the community eligible to compete for HRSA programs that place health professionals in high-need areas through loan repayment incentives.

Exposure to asbestos at sites that received vermiculite from Libby

The Summary Report: Exposure to asbestos-containing vermiculite from Libby, Montana, at 28 processing sites in the United States provides a review and analysis of what ATSDR and state health department partners learned during their evaluations of 28 sites that received asbestos-containing vermiculite from a mine in Libby, Montana. This report (1) offers valuable information about facilities that exfoliated asbestos-containing vermiculite, (2) identifies groups who experienced exposure to asbestos from these sites, and (3) recommends re-evaluating existing data for former exfoliation sites where residual asbestos may be present. The report also proposes important public health activities to increase awareness about this type of asbestos exposure.

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