Asbestos Occurring in Vermiculite
Vermiculite is a mineral that strongly resembles mica and is known for its expanding properties when heated. Vermiculite ores are formed in rock along with a number of different minerals and depending on the types of other minerals present, vermiculite can be found to contain traces of asbestos.
While asbestos does not always occur in vermiculite, the presence of the mineral diopside can, over a long period of time, turn into asbestos and appear in traces of vermiculite. This became problematic as vermiculite was used regularly in a number of different industries without much screening until the early 1990s.
Most frequently, vermiculite has been used in:
- Agricultural / horticultural markets
- Industrial markets
- Potting soils
- Loose fill insulation
- Packing materials
Until the early 1990s, little thought was given to the possible presence of asbestos in products made with vermiculite. However, with increased awareness of traces of asbestos in this mineral, strict screening processes have been installed in vermiculite mines to separate pure, non-toxic vermiculite from asbestos-containing vermiculite.
One of the biggest vermiculite-related disasters in recent history took place at a vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana. This mine had been in operation since the 1920s, and a huge number of workers were exposed to asbestos-containing vermiculite unknowingly for years.
Sadly, even when the health risks were identified, the mine owners chose to keep the mine in operation until 1990. Because of this, hundreds of Libby residents and mine workers suffered from serious health problems. Over 200 people were diagnosed and subsequently died from asbestos-related illnesses directly caused by exposure to vermiculite in the town.
If you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos, you need to contact a legal professional as quickly as possible to begin building a strong case against the person or people who have put your health in jeopardy. Contact the asbestos attorneys of Williams Kherkher today at 800-781-3955 and schedule a consultation.