Friday, April 01, 2005

EPA drops the ball-vermiculite and asbestos

According to another article in The Times of Trenton newspaper, the EPA did a study of asbestos contamination in the surrounding neighborhoods near vermiculite processing plants in 1985. The conclusion was that "55 workers and as many as 92,000 residents in the surrounding community were at risk of asbestos exposure". Further, in a worst case scenario more than 74 million consumers (mainly loose fill vermiculite attic insulation but also garden supplies) and 13 million people living near the processing plants could have been exposed to the flying asbestos.

But the EPA failed to make this report public and warn the workers within the plants or the residents living around the plants! Only at this late date 2005 after studies done in 1980, 1985, 1991 and 2001, all pointing to adverse health risks posed by tremolite contaminated vermiculite, has the EPA finally made these reports known to the people affected in and near the processing plant near Trenton. But what about the general public who were exposed through attic insulation and gardening supplies? I don't think this is common knowledge in the U.S. and I only found out about it by reading the news articles.

I was watering some primroses the other day and noticed a fleck of vemiculite glinting in the potting soil so apparently vermiculite is still available and used in the gardening industry. I'm hoping that this is from a uncontaminated source of mica ore but how can I really be sure? A nasty state of affairs.


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