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Asbestos everywhere.
November 17, 2005 6:11 AM   Subscribe

What products were made with vermiculite from the mine in Libby? Much of the Libby vermiculite was used to produce attic insulation products, often sold under the brand name Zonolite. Vermiculite was commonly sold in gardening and hardware stores. It was used as a soil amendment (conditioner to improve soil quality), fertilizer carrier, and it was an ingredient in many potting soil mixes. Vermiculite was also used in fireproofing materials, gypsum wallboard, and as a lightweight aggregate in construction materials. It's asbestos. Nightline is on it. And it's in millions of homes. Bush falters, concern grows, story explodes.
posted by toma (69 comments total)

 
hUH?
posted by R. Mutt at 6:22 AM on November 17, 2005


Please offer a link or something for "Bush falters". Sounds like compony responsible was involved and knew since the 60s, so maybe it's JFK's fault instead?

Don't worry, I'm first to jump on the "Blame Bush" bandwagon (because so many things *are* his fault), but I don't think is such a case.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:22 AM on November 17, 2005


Are you saying vermiculite = asbestos, or that some vermiculite contains vermiculite?

I've used vermiculite before, and the instructions I was using said you might want to use a dust-mask to avoid little glass particles getting into your lungs. Trace amounts of vermiculite dust got all over my last apartment :(
posted by delmoi at 6:24 AM on November 17, 2005


Are you saying vermiculite = asbestos, or that some vermiculite contains vermiculite?

Er, the last part should say "some vermiculite contains asbistos?"
posted by delmoi at 6:25 AM on November 17, 2005


Oh, okay. It's just some vermiculite. I suppose I should have read the article, as this stuff hasn't been in circulation since 1990. I got my stuff in 2004 :P
posted by delmoi at 6:27 AM on November 17, 2005


Also, how can you blame something that stopped in 1990 on Bush? (Unless you're talking about Bush Sr. I guess)
posted by delmoi at 6:28 AM on November 17, 2005


Libby, hmmmmm. Striking coincidence.
posted by IronLizard at 6:28 AM on November 17, 2005


Please read links.

I meant that, politically, as anger grows, this story will grow.
posted by toma at 6:30 AM on November 17, 2005


Also, how can you blame something that stopped in 1990 on Bush?

I'm a little confused by that as well. I don't even see how you would blame it on Bush Sr. What does the President have to do with a vermiculite mine? Does he own the mine or something? Was this a "scooter" joke?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:31 AM on November 17, 2005


I read the links, what does political anger have to do with a mine that closed in 1990?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:34 AM on November 17, 2005


If you were trying to draw a parallel between the growing anger at Bush and what you think will happen over this story, frankly, it went waaaay over my head and at least a few other readers'.
posted by alumshubby at 6:36 AM on November 17, 2005


Bush has been pushing to limit lawsuits about vermiculite, this has been prompted by the Auto industry which has been sued due to its use in manufacturing of cars. I had to do a bit of searching to figure this out myself.

If you do the links, you'll learn that MOST vermiculite is contaminated, the mine in Libby was much of the worlds source for vermiculite for many years..

Cut toma some slack, its a good post, perhaps just needed to fill out a couple of details.

and, for those that complained, a simple google of bush + vermiculite gave all the information and probably wouldn't have taken as long as posting a complaint...just saying...
posted by HuronBob at 6:37 AM on November 17, 2005


From the Wikipedia link:

"Vermiculite [...] is often found in association with asbestos. [...] Mining operations on the Libby site stopped in 1990 in response to asbestos contamination. The United States government estimates that it is used in more than 35 million homes."

Note the proportion of vermiculite contaminated with asbestos isn't mentioned.
posted by cillit bang at 6:37 AM on November 17, 2005


This FPP would be a lot better if it didn't contain filler links (wikipedia, the absestos safety sheet), if the Nightline link wasn't to a purchasable video, and if there wasn't an anti-Bush non-sequitor.
posted by I Love Tacos at 6:39 AM on November 17, 2005


CBC did a story about this 2 years ago. If I remember correctly, the Canadian government would actually subsidise the cost of the Zonolite if you installed it in your home, since this would reduce heating costs and make the world a better place. Or so they thought.
posted by chunking express at 6:39 AM on November 17, 2005


Also, I think you can watch the news report they did from the link above. I don't have real video so I can't check.
posted by chunking express at 6:41 AM on November 17, 2005


Can we agree that "vermiculite" is a fabulously fun word to say?
posted by COBRA! at 6:42 AM on November 17, 2005


OK, I should have separated the last comments. Not specifically talking about cause and effect there, my bad.

What I was trying to get at was that this administration, with its "Halliburton!" attitude, has gotten much of the nation in a Corporation=Patriot mindset. As it goes down, people will begin to question corporations as well, and this back-burner report will rightly get closer to the front page.

A political, not factual, statement.
posted by toma at 6:42 AM on November 17, 2005


Ok, I read the links. Now I don't know whether to shrug my shoulders or panic.

1. Asbestos contaminated most of the vermiculite sold before 1990.

2. Some of the bags of contaminated vermiculite for gardening use may still be sitting on the shelves.

3. I have used vermiculite extensively for at least 20 years.

Eh. Damage done.

(And I am not even going to look in the attic.)
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:44 AM on November 17, 2005


Vermiculi, vermicula, vermiculi, vermiculaaaaaa.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:57 AM on November 17, 2005


I played with the stuff when I was a kid. I was alarmed, hence the post.

I Love Tacos: I used a Wiki as a quick ref, there's no safety sheet there--that's the Centers for Disease Control's info site, the ABC Company Store site was used so anyone could read the first few paragraphs of the Nightline report (I looked over 6-10 other Nightline links and couldn't find a good one), and this is how you spell non-sequitur. And the worst it could have been was a false assertion, not a logical gaffe.
posted by toma at 7:04 AM on November 17, 2005


This post is horrible, but the story is kind of interesting. W.R. Grace, by the way, is the Eeeeeevil Corporation at the heart of A Civil Action.
posted by mkultra at 7:12 AM on November 17, 2005


I like my vermiculite nuggets with honey mustard sauce.
posted by IronLizard at 7:12 AM on November 17, 2005


Can we agree that "vermiculite" is a fabulously fun word to say?

I think we have a consensus on that.

Libby is a depressing little place, surrounded by beautiful mountains, but the city itself has that hard desperate feel of a clapped-out mining town.
posted by LarryC at 7:16 AM on November 17, 2005


My mother was really into gardening in the 60's and 70's. I played with the stuff, no lung cancer yet.

Pardon me while I toss up a lung to check... *koff-koff* Nope, looks okay to me. I don't think I'll get angry about this, especially after living in Wyoming, which has a good bit of the Chrysotile type in deposits subject to weathering.
posted by JB71 at 7:22 AM on November 17, 2005


Um, this might have some better links for folks interested in the story.

Toma, I'm down with the issue of vermiculite, I'm not sure I'm down with the Bush thing, seems a little stretchy without the brake shoe deal being spelled out. Thanks for at least bringing up the issue.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:23 AM on November 17, 2005


This post is a horribly confused mish-mash of things. Not a single one of the links stands as quality link on it is own, and it hasn't really been tied together in a way to make it a good FPP.

Just a little insider info: vermiculite has been known to asbestos litigation firms for some time. This story isn't new. But what you may not know is the enormous efforts by plaintiff's firms that do asbestos litigation to "tap that well." I have quite an intimate relationship with asbestos litigation and reform. I could tell you all kinds of secret insider tales about it and convince you why it should be limited. But let me just sum it up breifly by saying that asbestos litigation knew by the early 90's that asbestos litigation was going to dry up as all of the major producers were becoming bankrupt. An effort was made on two fronts to make sure the well didn't dry up: (1) pursue corporations that used asbestos products since the manufacturers were decimated; (2) seek other sources for asbestos-related claims that would bring other sources into the fold. Vermiculite was one of the targets on the second front and tens of millions of dollars has been invested in creating the vermiculite = asbestos concept so that another source of litigation can exist. So, in other words, you are being sold this fear.
posted by dios at 7:29 AM on November 17, 2005


My mother was really into gardening in the 60's and 70's. I played with the stuff, no lung cancer yet.

Nor will you get it. That isn't how asbestios or meso works.
posted by dios at 7:30 AM on November 17, 2005


I too have worked in some asbestos related litigation and can confirm basically what dios writes above. I had not heard of this Vermiculite issue (my work was with actual asbestos), though based on my experience what dios has to say about the issue is not implausible.

As for asbestos itself, my aunt and uncle were shipyard welders during WWII. Both wore asbestos felt face masks all day, every day for years. My uncle died of asbestosis some 40 years later, my aunt never got so much as a cough.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:41 AM on November 17, 2005


Asbestos is a fibrous type of hydrated magnesium silicate (IANACh), and there are other common forms of platelet MgSiO4, such as mica, whence "verMICulite", a puffed-up form of mica.

I worked for a firm that used asbestos in manufacturing. When we became aware of the problems with asbestos (around 1980), we reformulated all of our to eliminate asbestos. Our competitors would advertise "asbestos-free" formulations, while we would call ours non-asbestos formulations, the fine distinction being that we all used talc and in some cases mica as fillers, for compressive strength. We knew way back then, and investigated quite carefully, that vermiculite and talc might contain small percentages of fibrous magnesium silicates, since the mining of the platelet type often occured in similar geological strata.

I take perhaps a different stance than most about the horrors of vermiculite. Having read tons of litigation on asbestos (and yes mesothelioma is horrible) I realize that the risk of exposure through vermiculite is rather low--of course, the miners are more at risk, but that is also where the background on all of this gets sketchy.

While American manufacturers were under the gun to remove asbestos and eventually vermiculite from their manufacturing processes, Canadians, and in fact most of the rest of the world were not. American business suffered tremendous losses (my company went bankrupt) while foreign companies exported their MgSiO4 products to the USA, mostly because for many applications, no better product exists. And the ones we Americans used--spun glass, Kevlar or other synthetic fibers--are only marginally safer and have no 1000 year history to study--as asbestos does.

This is not to minimize or marginalize the health risks to the miners and mill processors. They should be taken care of. But the asbestos in homes and schools, floors and insulation, present absolutely negligible risk when left in place. When disturbed--as in the insulation removal process--damn high risk. But also, not much higher of a risk than the number of carcinogenic fibers that can be sampled from the air on any city's main throughfares during work hours.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:50 AM on November 17, 2005


On preview, though I find I rarely agree with dios, he correctly details the fear-mongering asbestosis/mesothelioma litigators. My field was automotive components. I had customers who made gaskets out of my products. In one case, five of my cutomers from NE Illinois were subpoena'd in a case in California where an auto mechanic claimed asbestosis came from scraping gaskets off of cars for 30 years.

I can't argue whether he did or did not have asbestosis, but I know that the firms involved likely sold less than half of a percent of the products involved. The big guys had already been tapped out. Fel-Pro, McCord, and Victor (and Frenzelit and others) were already in reorganization because of asbestos litigation, so they went after these Mom&Pop shops.

Disgusting. Terrifying. Almost makes me hate trial lawyers.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:57 AM on November 17, 2005


Didn't anticipate the lawyers.

Grew up changing brakes, my second job was at the Mobil station. Still working on my own brakes, still worried. Didn't know my gaskets might be choking me too.

PoMach, I certainly worked on that link, but decided not to post it because of its wimpiness as to information. In that EPA site, if you walk through it, you'll notice both the neutrality of information and the dizzying lists of links which tend to discourage further inquiry. It was difficult to find a gov-linked site that said much of anything.
posted by toma at 8:01 AM on November 17, 2005


Pollomacho, the Dallas bar is basically ground zero in asbestos litigation, and I have close personal knowledge of one firm, Baron & Budd--which has made somewhere in the ball park of a billion dollars in attorney's fees alone from asbestos cases--that is heavily invested in both opposing the asbestos litigation and promoting the vermiculite argument. Interesting angle: Fred Baron, of Baron & Budd, has made personal wealth in the hundreds of millions on asbestos cases, and was the finance chairman for John Edwards campaign for president (and was prominently involved in Kerry's campaign; he had a lot invested in making sure Bush didn't get another term to push tort reform). Fred wants you to believe in the fear of asbestos in vermiculite, and he spends millions a year on political contributions and activities to spark fear in you.

There is no doubt that asbestos is bad stuff and some people are deserving of compensation. I generally oppose tort reform (sounds odd, doesn't it?, coming from someone who defends doctors and hospitals everyday in medical malpractice suits), but I support the asbestos reform because I know what a sham it is. It wasn't always, but somewhere along the line in the mid-80's, the balance got out of whack. A very, very small percentage of meso and asbestios claims are what I would call non-frivolous. Yet, a cottage industry developed, and the beast has to be fed. Vermiculite is just an attempt to keep the beast from starving.
posted by dios at 8:32 AM on November 17, 2005


I agree with dios on two points, that equating vermiculite with asbestos is a profit driven fear tactic, and that this post is nothing short of awful. However, I don't find a rather condescending (and unsupported) profession of insider knowledge particularly helpful to the post, or the people who actually are suffering from asbestos exposure. It's somewhat surprising to me how lawyers involved with this have become such capable medical professionals as well ...

The fight in Libby is continuing, with the latest salvo being fired from HNA/Trevaris, informing the folks in Libby that they're really not all that sick. And I find it enormously surprising that this post didn't play up what the Nightline blurb briefly mentions: that W.R.Grace has been indicted for criminal practices. All of this is colored by the Senate consideration of the FAIR act, S 852. Small business associations seem to very supportive of it, and it shouldn't be any surprise that many Republicans and trial lawyers are against it. (Imagine my surprise in agreeing with the Reps on this.) Now if only the sides could agree on the numbers.

So, there's your backdrop for Nightline's little scare story about Libby. The post is correct on certain things: the issues are heating up, and the Bush administration is in the thick of it.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:36 AM on November 17, 2005


Crap, I missed the link to the FAIR act. Here 'tis.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:42 AM on November 17, 2005


I generally oppose tort reform (sounds odd, doesn't it?, coming from someone who defends doctors and hospitals everyday in medical malpractice suits)

No, it doesn't sound odd in the slightest, if you're someone who wishes to remain employed. If you were a doctor or hospital that paid the lawyer bills, it would sound odd.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:51 AM on November 17, 2005


However, I don't find a rather condescending (and unsupported) profession of insider knowledge particularly helpful to the post, or the people who actually are suffering from asbestos exposure.

Well, then see if this is helpful.

People are given surveys to find out if they worked in X factory over a decade ago. They are coached about what medical conditions to allege. They are coached to talk about how they have all the symptoms of meso or asbestiosis. They are brought in and shown picture of a label that may have been in on some place where there is asbestos.
"Do you remember seeing this sign right here which says Anderson Asbestos company on a crack in the factory over a decade ago?"
"No."
"Let's try this again. You remember seeing this sign right here which says Anderson Asbestos company, don't you?"
"Oh, maybe."
"So when the defense attorney asks if you remember seeing anything identifying what you thought was asbestos, what are you going to say?"
"Anderson Asbestos."
"Good."

Case settles against Anderson Asbestos and then witness is coached to say that the sign was Thompson Asbestos so they would pay too. And then each of the Asbestos companies are implicated as witness changes story. Because you know what the neat thing is? It was nigh on impossible to prove what company's asbestos was where.

Then, after all the asbestos company are bankrupted, your surveys are still going out and you are trying to bring any plaintiffs in. Now you coach the witness to say that he remebers that back in your office in the 80's there was a cieling panel that fell out. And he remembers that he had a discussion with his boss that he thought there might have been some asbestos up there in that panel. And now, lo and behold, he has been coached to describe that he has the symptoms of meso (and not to point out that he has smoked 2 packs a day for the last 20 years).

Asbestos litigation is the biggest disgrace to lawyers around. Anyone who defends it has no knowledge whatsoever about what occurs. It is a scam and a fraud.

Are there legitmate claims? Yes. But the overwhelming vast majority of them aren't. There is so much coaching, lying, and unethical behavior that even the legitimate claims are tainted by it.
posted by dios at 8:52 AM on November 17, 2005


for crissakes people. lay off toma for tossing in some light political prognostication. if this does blossom into the scandal it seems to have the potential to, the likelihood (based on 5 yrs of empirical evidence) is that Mr. Bush and Co. will, indeed, falter in his handling of the matter.

i don't think toma was implying *culpability* on the administration's part - just ineptitude. which is almost as obvious as "vermiculite" is fun to say.
posted by ab3 at 8:54 AM on November 17, 2005


I tend to agree with Dios and beelzbubba We're not talking about plutonium here.
posted by delmoi at 8:56 AM on November 17, 2005


i don't think toma was implying *culpability* on the administration's part - just ineptitude. which is almost as obvious as "vermiculite" is fun to say.

The problem is that we're potentially being sold this scare in order for big law companies to get rich suing people, (probably like the Thimerosal = autism thing)

Trace, trace amounts of asbestos aren't going to kill anyone, you need to have a certain amount
posted by delmoi at 8:59 AM on November 17, 2005


NEWSFLASH: Toilets all over the southern US clog irrepairably! Sanitaion disaster! Bush falters on commode! Tune in at 11.
posted by IronLizard at 8:59 AM on November 17, 2005


However, I don't find a rather condescending (and unsupported) profession of insider knowledge particularly helpful to the post

I do. Thanks to dios, Pollomacho, and beelzbubba for sharing.
posted by Bort at 9:01 AM on November 17, 2005


It's somewhat surprising to me how lawyers involved with this have become such capable medical professionals as well

It's not surprising at all. In general a lawyer involved in a technical lawsuit will learn a great deal about that particular field.
posted by delmoi at 9:01 AM on November 17, 2005


dios - what big corporation must you work for to be so angry here? if we automatically assume that all civil suit plaintiffs are faking symptoms and reciting coached testimony, we should just give up on the whole legal system right now. as a former defense attorney, i'm as wary of plaintiffs and plaintiff attorneys as anyone - but i have to disagree - the vast majority of claims ARE legitimate. fraud is the exception, not the rule. and as for me, i'll leave those determinations to the juries and judges hearing those cases.
posted by ab3 at 9:05 AM on November 17, 2005


dios - what big corporation must you work for to be so angry here?

He said he represented hospitals and whatnot. And he dosn't seem very angry to me.

if we automatically assume that all civil suit plaintiffs are faking symptoms and reciting coached testimony, we should just give up on the whole legal system right now.

Why not? It'd probably be an improvement.
posted by delmoi at 9:08 AM on November 17, 2005


ab3--You'll apparently win nothing by interpretation.
posted by toma at 9:09 AM on November 17, 2005


Trace, trace amounts of asbestos aren't going to kill anyone, you need to have a certain amount
posted by delmoi at 10:59 AM CST on November 17


Well, the amount is certainly a factor. The length of exposure, as well as the length of continuous exposure are factors. Moreover, pre-existing health conditions can be exacerbated, so they are a factor. But there are plenty of other factors which can make exposure more harmful. Smokers will be effected more, as will people will heart problems. People with poor health generally will be effected more. So, a completely healthly person can be exposed to a lot more asbestos over a longer period of time without developing conditions. The thing is, the vast, vast majority of asbestos claims are poor, blue collar union types who have all kinds of other factors which lead to the conditions associated with meso/asbestiosis. This is why Plaintiffs who are effected are so easy to find: because it is so easy to find people with symptoms that could be tied to asbestos. You've got shortness of breath? And you worked for a factory? You've got an asbestos case!
posted by dios at 9:12 AM on November 17, 2005


he dosn't seem very angry to me.

no?

Anyone who defends it has no knowledge whatsoever about what occurs. It is a scam and a fraud.

sounds angry to me.
posted by ab3 at 9:17 AM on November 17, 2005


Vermicelli?
posted by cusack at 9:19 AM on November 17, 2005


Lovely anectdotes, dios. I'm certain that many of them are true. I'm even more certain that you are engaging in your own small bit of fear mongering concerning what are and aren't valid asbestos claims. And you have my intentions pegged very very wrong if you believe that I'm defending Sokolov or any of the other ambulance chasers out there. My interest is rather in defending Libby, MT, sometimes from our own Congressmen, (one of which has used your own presented arguments and anecdotes in an attempt to limit Grace's liabilities for Libby's health issues.) It does seem like you and I could come to a common agreement about one thing, however; why don't we leave medical diagnosis to doctors, hmmm?
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:21 AM on November 17, 2005


My Wifes Mom grew up in Libby, she still has a Grandfather there and some other relatives so Ive been there a few times to visit. It is definitely a small town, I dont know if I'd use the word depressing, but maybe I would if I lived there. It is extremely beautiful country, ross creek cedars, the libby dam and lake kookanusa, and whatever that river is called where they filmed that a river wild movie is called, the swinging bridge above the river is pretty cool to walk across.

Last few times Ive been to Libby Ive never heard a word about the vermiculite or asebestos problems, In fact I hear more about it from friends in California or talk on the internet.
posted by skrike at 9:22 AM on November 17, 2005


dios - what big corporation must you work for to be so angry here? if we automatically assume that all civil suit plaintiffs are faking symptoms and reciting coached testimony, we should just give up on the whole legal system right now. as a former defense attorney, i'm as wary of plaintiffs and plaintiff attorneys as anyone - but i have to disagree - the vast majority of claims ARE legitimate. fraud is the exception, not the rule. and as for me, i'll leave those determinations to the juries and judges hearing those cases.
posted by ab3 at 11:05 AM CST on November 17


Well, obviously you missed the part where I said this is limited to asbestos cases.

There is no need to assume that asbestos clients are being coached: they are as a matter of fact and everyone knows it! (Here is one article from the late 90's that exposed the open secret in the bar). I have heard it first hand from people who work for firms that do so. There have been numerous scandals that have surfaced, including recorded meetings with clients where there is coaching going on that were released former attorneys at some of these firms. Hell, the attorneys practically admit they do it!

But I don't think that is the case with general civil cases. I am opposed to tort reform, in general, because it throws out the baby with the bath water. There are enough procedural requirements in place that frivolous claims can be defeated without restrictive reform. But that is generally. The specific area of asbestos litigation is different. It was a boutique area of the law that was created out of whole cloth, and turned into a cottage industry and a fraud that gave attorneys bad names.

Why do I hate it so much? Because it is a disgrace to the law. It is the definition of a frivolous litigation that tarnishes other areas of litigation which are respectful. It has nothing to do with personal interest beyond an interest in preventing disgraceful legal practice. I work in health care and we don't have such claims, so it doesn't have to anythign to do with that.
posted by dios at 9:24 AM on November 17, 2005


i know this because i have read john grisham.
posted by quonsar at 9:35 AM on November 17, 2005


The many fun words that begin with "V", hmmm . . . . va, va, va, voom, vermicelli, vermiculite, verisimilitude. Verisimilitude is one of my favorites.

The green rock you see along much of highway one in California - that contains asbestos.
posted by tzelig at 9:38 AM on November 17, 2005


Wulgar!,

You are free to support them, and if certain people you are concerned with have valid claims, then . I'm not trying to convince you that no one has a valid claim; I haven't said that--indeed, there are most likely some valid claims. All I have said is that the asbestos litigation industry is a machine that manufactures tenuous claims and engages in unethical conduct in trying to bleed money on tenuous claims solely for the purpose of collecting attorney's fees. They are the attorneys which spoil the whole lot, and they work hard to convince people that situations such as the one linked are very dangerous and need compensaiton. You are free to disagree, and I applaud your effort to make your argument.
posted by dios at 9:39 AM on November 17, 2005


Erm... that should say: "then I am sure they will be taken care of."
posted by dios at 9:41 AM on November 17, 2005


dios -

touché.

though i maintain at least some degree of idealism on the subject, i can certainly appreciate where you're coming from.
posted by ab3 at 9:43 AM on November 17, 2005


Doesn't asbestos actually stay in the lungs (causing the problems)? So in theory, you should be able to take a sample of someone's lung to test for the actual presence of asbestos, right?

Or am I mistaken?
posted by delmoi at 9:56 AM on November 17, 2005


dios, had you followed some of the links I posted, you would find that, because of asbestos related tort reform, there is no certainty at all that the people of Libby will be taken care of.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:20 AM on November 17, 2005


I had no idea about any of this; thank you Toma, Pollomacho, Dios, et al.
posted by AllesKlar at 10:31 AM on November 17, 2005


once the asbestos has been combined with a binder resin it is not a danger, it is the fresh micro sharp fibers that cause the problems. only the spun and fluff material caused the cancers.
I was sad when John Mansville went bankrupt, they stopped making those great prismatic light fixtures. I agree with our very own dios on this issue.
posted by hortense at 10:34 AM on November 17, 2005


only the spun and fluff material caused the cancers.

I have no idea if this is what research has shown, but I hope that hortense is true. My dad worked with commercial floorcovering for years and they'd often tear up floor tile that was majorly asbestos or even sand the top layer off -- without wearing masks. He doesn't know anyone who has had issues from that exposure, but he can name several electricians -- who regularly work in and around insulation -- who have died of lung cancer as nonsmokers.
posted by mikeh at 11:35 AM on November 17, 2005


The majority of all vermiculite insulation produced before 1990 used demonic vermiculite from Libby. Demons in vermiculite are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Only a trained technician using a microscope can see demons. However, due to limitations in the methods even trained technicians cannot always determine if all vermiculite contains demons. Therefore, to be safe, you should assume that vermiculite insulation may be contaminated with demons.

This page was written in 1300, wasn't it?
posted by jfuller at 2:52 PM on November 17, 2005


This was a really good thread coming from a terrible post. I read about W.R. Grace and Libby a few years ago and it seems to me that while W.R. Grace is a terrible den of evil greedy bastards, the vermiculite problem was a little overstated. But then I'm neither a doctor nor a lawyer, so.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:26 PM on November 17, 2005


[building material containing asbestos] hasn't been in circulation since 1990.

Amazing. In scandinavia this was outlawed and removed in 1979 or early '80s.
posted by spazzm at 3:52 PM on November 17, 2005


My attic's blanketed in vermiculite, and ever since the missus and I saw that CBC feature chunking linked to, we've been wary of going anywhere near it or even doing the most minor of home renos. (Punched a hole in the bathroom ceiling to install a ventilation fan last year, and the floor wound up coated in vermiculite dust, which I swept up and turfed while wearing a face mask.)

So then, leaving aside for a moment the overzealousness of asbestos litigation, can anyone point me toward any hard, non-fear-mongering data on what risks (if any) the verimiculite in my attic poses?
posted by gompa at 4:11 PM on November 17, 2005


Okay I screwed this up. But I tried to find a comprehensive discussion, tried to find a definitive link, and couldn't. And only chungking's CBC link is any better.

It's underreported, controversial, and it's a big story.
posted by toma at 5:38 PM on November 17, 2005


Given that not every asbestos mine worker died of agonizing lung cancer, I think it's safe to say that the asbestos threat is just a little overhyped. You're far more at risk of being killed in a pedestrian crosswalk. Just as I wouldn't suggest dancing in the crosswalk when the light is green, I wouldn't suggest huffing vermiculite, but it's pretty unlikely that you're going to die just because you repotted your plants.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:48 AM on November 18, 2005


Okay I screwed this up. But I tried to find a comprehensive discussion, tried to find a definitive link, and couldn't. And only chungking's CBC link is any better.

toma, with all due respect, that's just BS. Both dios and my complaints about your post were that it was nearly impossible to define what exactly you were posting about. Was it the horror and threat of vermiculate? That view is supported by your tag, but little else. Was it the Nightline story about Libby, MT? In that case, it wasn't much of a post, except to say, "hey, watch Nightline ... they'll scare you!" There's absolutely nothing underreported about a story of reporters ... reporting.

Was it about the public health threat of asbestos? Guess what, slick? The only meaningful link posted to the thread by someone other than me was chungking's CBC link; but it's insulting and foolish to claim that that was the only link better than yours. They all were, and except for a couple, they were posted by me. I'm not so sorry, toma, but I'm not going to allow you to cover your ass for a crap post at my expense. There are reasons that this is a controversial and "big" story, and you presented none of them. Others did, (and at the time, I was actually delusional enough to think I was helping your crap post out. Thanks for the acknowledgement of that, pinhead.) You might take this as an opportunity to learn, but your last comment shows me how doubtful that really is.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:09 PM on November 18, 2005


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