Asbestos in Montana

Asbestos is a fibrous material that can be found occurring naturally in the Earth, and it has been deemed a toxic substance.  It has great abilities to resist heat and was thought very handy indeed for a number of uses, until its composite make-up was deemed hazardous to one’s health in the last two decades.

Asbestos Exposure

Montana asbestos exposure has been severe, experienced largely in the W.R. Grace asbestos mine in Libby.  Oil refineries and paper mills are also industries within the state that can be linked to asbestos exposure.  Mining operations, however, have been at the forefront of Montana asbestos problems for many years.

Montana Asbestos Regulations

Laws governing asbestos removal vary from state to state.  Montana asbestos regulations require asbestos abatement if three or more linear feet of asbestos-containing material (ACM) is friable (brittle, easily fragmented) and needs to be removed.  According to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the fibers present in any air quality test must not be more than a specified number of particulates in a given air sample.

Removal of asbestos must be performed by a professional who has received training and completed a course on how to handle and dispose of the dangerous substance properly.  When asbestos is disturbed, the fibers and particulates get released into the air where they can do harm.  Montana asbestos regulations provide annual permits for facilities that have ongoing asbestos safety and health meetings, and who employ certified asbestos workers to rid the environment of harmful asbestos.

  • Libby, Montana - Libby is a charming valley protected on the south side by the Cabinet Mountains with a long history of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma health issues.  Often considered the epicenter of asbestos exposure in the state, Libby is hurting.  An article located on an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) web page, Libby Asbestos, offers details of their plight.  The EPA Information Center can provide the latest facts and figures on the clean-up of this hazardous substance around Libby.
  • Zonolite Mountain - The Zonolite Mountain mine, owned by W.R. Grace from 1963 to 1990, had a reputation far and wide for being one of the most dangerous in existence during the 1900s.  It was being operated to produce a particular substance, vermiculite, which works well as insulation after it has been exposed to extremely high temperatures.  Unfortunately, asbestos is a by-product of mining for vermiculite, and given the fact that, at one time, this mine produced half the vermiculite in the world, many homes in the United States are likely insulated with materials from it.

Asbestos Health Emergency

Finally, in June 2009, the EPA declared a health emergency in Libby due to the fact that more than 200 people had died of mesothelioma, a direct correlation to asbestos exposure.  This was the first statement of its type made in the United States.  This declaration regarding Montana asbestos is anticipated to bring more than $130 million to the community of Libby for help in asbestos clean-up.  At least $6 million will be spent towards health screenings, diagnoses, and treatment for affected residents.

Asbestos Legal Help

In light of the exorbitant costs to the health of the Libby community, an asbestos exposure lawsuit was filed against W.R. Grace and argued on behalf of the residents.  Unfortunately, a decision was recently reached by the jury to decide in favor of W.R. Grace, the mine owners.

This is not a sign, however, to give up.  If you or your family worked in a mine, an oil refinery, or a paper mill in Montana where you believe asbestos was present, you need to seek Montana asbestos help with an attorney who can review the facts of your case with you.

If you have any questions about vermiculite insulation in your home, it may be helpful to visit the Asbestos Resource Center on the EPA’s website. A fact sheet is provided to cover vermiculite insulation and to help you tell if it is in your home.  Once you have answered the questions on the fact sheet for yourself, contact an attorney for Montana asbestos to help you in deciding if you have any recourse for monetary assistance in getting the substance removed from your home.  If you worked in the mine, or have a family member who did, you are most likely at very high risk of contacting mesothelioma or any of a number of asbestos-related diseases.  You weren’t told of the risks; your voice deserves to be heard.  Contact an asbestos attorney today.