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Asbestos

Media Announcements - Omaha, NE

Former Western Minerals Products Employees Exposed to Asbestos;
ATSDR Releases Public Health Consultation

 

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2004

ATLANTA -Employees at Western Minerals Products site in Omaha, Neb., from the 1940s to 1989 were exposed to asbestos at levels that exceeded workplace health standards, says a public health consultation released by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Those who lived with former workers also were potentially exposed to asbestos.

During those years, the plant processed vermiculite mined in Libby, Mont. The vermiculite from Libby contained asbestos. ATSDR has linked some exposures to Libby vermiculite to respiratory illnesses. Records indicate that the Western Minerals building was cleaned and testing showed no detectable asbestos fibers when the plant was sold. Based on these records, current employees and people who live and work around the site are not being exposed to asbestos.

In addition, ATSDR found no indication that people brought asbestos-contaminated waste rock home from the site for personal use.

ATSDR recommends that former workers and people who lived with them to consult with a physician who has experience diagnosing asbestos-related lung disease. ATSDR is also seeking information from the public about the site, including any disposal and distribution of asbestos-contaminated waste rock. People who have information about the site are urged to call ATSDR at 1-888-422-8737.

Asbestos exposure is a known health hazard. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral containing fibers, some so small they are invisible unless magnified. Breathing in asbestos does not guarantee health problems. But in some cases, asbestos fibers might damage lungs or the linings of the lungs, and lead to illness and even death.

The health consultation is available at:

South Branch Library
2303 M St
Omaha

The Western Minerals Products site is part of ATSDR's National Asbestos Exposure Review (NAER). Under the program, more than 200 sites around the United States that received vermiculite ore mined in Libby from the early 1920s until 1990 are being evaluated.

For more information about the site and the health consultation, community members may contact Health Communications Specialist Maria Teran-MacIver, toll-free, at 1-888-422-8737 or Regional Representative Denise Jordan-Izaguirre at 303-312-7010. Email inquiries can be sent to atsdric@cdc.gov.

ATSDR, a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, evaluates the human health effects of exposure to hazardous substances.

Established by Congress in 1980 under the Superfund law, ATSDR conducts public health consultations at each of the sites on the EPA National Priorities List, as well as other sites when petitioned. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia ATSDR is staffed by more than 400 health professionals including epidemiologists, physicians, toxicologists, engineers and public health educators.

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Members of the news media can request an interview by calling the NCEH/ATSDR Office of Communication at 404-498-0070.

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