While the disease is rare, many are familiar with mesothelioma and its causal relationship to exposure to asbestos, a once common additive to many industrial and commercial products during the mid-20th century. However, many do not realize that mesothelioma is not the only debilitating condition associated with exposure to toxic asbestos.
According to research analyzed by reporters, the case study of one small Montana town highlights just how high the risks of asbestos exposure can be, even if it does not result in developing mesothelioma. The study analyzed the health of the 7,300 residents of Libby, Montana in the years following the closure of a nearby vermiculite mine.
The mine operated for decades until its closure in 1990. The vermiculite mined contained asbestos and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared it a an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site in 2002. It became one of the largest environmental cleanups in U.S. history.