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EPA awards contract for study of vermiculite

| December 31, 2008 11:00 PM

The Western News

The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences has received a $2.1 million contract from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study vermiculite, also known as Libby amphibole, a mineral resembling mica used in insulation, packing and other processes.

A mine near Libby was the world’s leading source of vermiculite for 70 years until its closure in 1990. Asbestos-contaminated vermiculite was shipped from Libby to hundreds of locations across the U.S. and continues to pose public health risks.

Occupational exposure to this vermiculite is associated with asbestosis, lung cancer and pleural cancer.

The three-year study will include assembling an inhalation exposure system for the exposure of fibers to laboratory animals, conducting range-finding and definitive toxicity studies in rats, and analyzing fiber content of rat tissues following exposure.