The mining company responsible was W.R. Grace. The business mining operations began in 1923. W.R. Grace company operated vermiculite mine and dispensation mill in Libby from 1963 until the year of 1990 when it was closed. The mining company employed up to two hundred people annually at its vermiculite mine and mill. Workers inhaled asbestos-contaminated dust during mining operations and moving the vermiculite ore and this contaminated dust remains in worker's clothes and vehicles and it is brought to town. The product of the company is Zonolite Attic Insulation was used in resident's homes and in new home construction in various locations around Libby.
The vermiculite ore was distributed to extension plants throughout the country and processed into fireproofing materials and insulations, exposing many more workers.
At its peak of mining operation, vermiculite mining production reached more than 200,000 tons annually (LibbyMT, 2005). And W.R. Grace is believed to have supplied 80% of vermiculite around the world (http://www.scn.org/bh162/asbestos_libby.html#update77, 2006).
Problems & Sub Problems
Asbestos exposure in Libby, MT was highest for the mine workers; the mine generated tons of asbestos-contaminated dust that became a hazard to the people in Libby, Montana. In the investigations conducted, W.R. Grace Company did not provide rooms for their workers to take shower and change of clothes. Dust traveled from the mine to the families of the miners as dust that stuck on the miners' clothing. A huge number of miners and their family members have died due to asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma....
The exposure of asbestos not only endangers the workers but also all of us including our biological environment as asbestos and vermiculite have been relocated and used in houses and industries worldwide. Everything covered with asbestos become “carriers”, endangering living animals and individuals that may inhale contaminated dust, and eventually cost the lives of innocent people. The inhalation of asbestos fibers, affect the air sacs of the lungs, which become thick and scarred, causing breathlessness: patients are liable to develop lung cancer. Once the scarring has taken place there is no way to reverse the process. Therefore, to answer the asbestosis and mesothelioma crisis is to prevent exposure. People in industries in which there is asbestos exposure should be aware of the potential danger and should always be prepared to promote the maintenance of protective practices and the study or investigation of new ideas and devices. Where mask has been supplied, the miners or workers should wear them, a practice too often neglected.
In conclusion, one action that can be taken once an individual exhaled asbestos at a minimal level is to adopt a healthy lifestyle, of eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in order to regenerate cell tissues scarred by asbestos. This lifestyle must be backed up by rigid physical activities and exercises as well as enough rest and sleep. In time, it has been suggested that initial exposure can be averted by halting exposure and adopting the healthy lifestyle.