Wednesday, February 08, 2023

CARD Clinic gets $2.5 million for asbestos screening

by The Western News
| July 26, 2019 1:10 PM

The Center for Asbestos Related Disease, or CARD Clinic in Libby will get nearly $2.5 million in federal funding to help screen for asbestos-related diseases in Libby and its surrounding communities in Lincoln County, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. announced Monday.

The money will help cover the cost of chest x-rays, breathing tests, and other ongoing operational costs as the Libby area continues to deal with the health effects of widespread toxic asbestos poisoning from the W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine that operated there for decades. Hundreds of Libby residents have died and thousands more have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases since Grace closed its mine in 1990.

The funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and extends a program that was first authorized by the Affordable Care Act to provide preventive tests for Libby area residents.

“The CARD Clinic is saving lives by providing screenings for folks in and around Libby,” Tester said in a press release. “This grant provides much-needed funding to cover expensive X-rays and breathing tests, helping them make Lincoln County safer and healthier.”

The uncovering of widespread contamination in Lincoln County communities in late 1999 prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to place Libby on its Superfund National Priorities List in 2002.

“We can’t thank Senator Tester enough for his long term support,” said Dr. Brad Black, chief executive officer of the CARD Clinic. “He recognizes that health effects from Libby Amphibole exposure continue to be a pervasive problem that will go on for years due to latency of the disease. He continues to help CARD maintain critical services for individuals who have suffered ill health effects.”

According to information from his office, Tester has been an outspoken and consistent advocate for intensified clean-up and disease prevention for Libby and its surrounding communities.

Earlier this year, he took EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to task for attempting to cut one-third of the EPA budget, potentially putting funding for Superfund clean-up at risk.

He also met with Dr. Black following the Trump Administration’s recent attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, jeopardizing the clinic’s future.

This spring, Tester helped designate the week of April 1-7, 2019, as “National Asbestos Awareness Week” as part of his ongoing efforts to combat the dangers of exposure, and he again reintroduced the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act to completely ban the use of asbestos, which is still legal in the United States.