ATSDR's health consultation. The committee
ers to offer health education workshops for
consists of members from federal, state, and
residents and a physician education program
local health and environmental agencies.
regarding hydrogen sulfide exposure in the
community. ATSDR has used newsletters and
ATSDR worked with local emergency respond-
fact sheets to keep the community aware of the
ers and the local school board to create a
progress of the investigation and next steps.
response and evacuation plan during times when
hydrogen sulfide odors are highest, recommend-
ATSDR National Asbestos
ing that the local school district purchase and
install hydrogen sulfide monitors equipped with
alarms at three schools closest to the area of
Vermiculite, which is used in lawn and garden
concern. The school district followed the recom-
products, in various building materials, and in
mendation and purchased three portable moni-
insulation, was mined and processed in Libby,
tors. An emergency evacuation plan was devel-
Montana, from the early 1920s until 1990.
oped for those times when high levels are
Although most vermiculite products pose no
detected. ATSDR also organized a training ses-
health problem, the vermiculite ore from the
sion for school staff and emergency responders
Libby mine was contaminated with asbestos.
on the use of the monitor/alarms and the emer-
Studies have shown that people who worked
gency response plan. ATSDR currently reviews
in the mine and processing facilities and
all data collected by the school monitors.
people who lived in the Libby community were
exposed to asbestos-contaminated vermiculite
ATSDR also worked with local health depart-
during the time the facilities were in operation.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause very
establish a 24-hour odor hotline that residents
serious health problems, including asbestosis
can call to report odors. The Ohio Department
and mesothelioma (a type of cancer).
of Health and EPA collected residential well
samples and tested for gases escaping from resi-
Records show that the vermiculite ore from
in 15 area homes. Hydrogen sul-
Libby was shipped to 244 locations around the
fide was detected volatilizing from residential
United States for processing. Former workers
well water at levels as high as 8 ppm.
and people around these sites where the ver-
miculite was shipped may have been exposed to
ATSDR and EPA installed 14 ambient air moni-
asbestos in various ways, such as handling the
tors that collected air samples both indoors and
vermiculite, playing in the process by-products,
outdoors in the community for 90 days to char-
or taking home dust on clothes.
acterize hydrogen sulfide concentrations in the
area and determine the most impacted areas in
ATSDR's National Asbestos Exposure Review
is working with other federal, state, and local
environmental and public health agencies to
Ohio EPA and Warren City are working with the
evaluate the 244 sites by (1) identifying past and
landfill to expedite the installation of groundwa-
present exposure pathways and (2) determining
ter monitoring wells and ambient air monitors
if there is a significant hazard to public health
at any of the sites. On the basis of site-specific
ATSDR is planning to conduct a health study
investigations, ATSDR will recommend further
of asthmatic children in the area. The agency is
actions as necessary to protect public health.
also currently working with community lead-
chapter 1 23