The Center for Asbestos Related DiseaseIn the northwest corner of Montana, in the rural community of Libby, the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) has emerged as a national center of excellence in addressing healthcare issues associated with Libby amphibole (previously called tremolite) asbestos. The CARD is a non-profit 501(c) 3 clinic governed by a volunteer community board. CARD operates with the vision of Caring Pathways to Treatment. The CARD is devoted to healthcare, outreach, and research to benefit all people impacted by exposure to Libby amphibole asbestos.
Libby Amphibole Asbestos is UniqueLibby amphibole asbestos has been recognized to be very unique as it is both chemically and structurally different from chrysotile, the commercial asbestos most common around the country. From a study by United States Geological Survey (USGS) released in 2003, we learned that Libby amphibole asbestos is a mixture of at least 5 chemically similar fibers. One of the unique features of Libby amphibole asbestos is the tendency of larger fragments to fracture, forming long thin mineral fibers that appear the same as naturally formed asbestos fibers. The toxicity of these fragments is currently unknown.
Exposure in Libby MontanaThe Libby, Montana community and its residents are facing a critical environmental and public health crisis caused by the slow motion technological disaster of asbestos exposure. In the fall of 1999, writer Andrew Schneider of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer broke the story (November 18, 1999 and November 19, 1999 issues) that revealed there had been hundreds of illnesses and deaths in the Libby community over the past 70 years resulting from occupational and non-occupational environmental exposures to asbestos associated with Libby's vermiculite mining and milling operations.
Exposure Across the NationAt peak output, the Libby mine was producing 80% of the world's vermiculite. The CARD is aware that many other towns and cities will soon realize that they too have community-wide Libby amphibole asbestos exposure issues to address. The latency of asbestos-related diseases has allowed the serious health-related problems of asbestos exposure to go unrealized in many communities thus far. However, vermiculite contaminated with Libby amphibole asbestos was shipped to nearly 300 processing plants around the country.