The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced plans for new research into the distribution and concentration of asbestos contamination in vermiculite, which is produced by various mines and used in different occupational settings.
A fact sheet, NIOSH Research in Libby, Montana: Job-Related Asbestos Exposures and Health Effects in Mining and Milling of Vermiculite, which describes past and future research efforts into job-related asbestos exposures is posted on the NIOSH Web site at www.cdc.gov.
The institute said that there have been recent concerns about the occupational and public health risks from exposure to vermiculite, including risks to former miners and residents in Libby, Mont., where a major vermiculite mine is located and consumers who come in contact with vermiculite end-products like potting soil.
"Through carefully designed sampling, we will be better able to define the extent of potential occupational exposure," said NIOSH. "We are also assessing other options for possible research. Pending further research, it would be prudent to handle vermiculite with caution."
by Virginia Sutcliffe