Tomorrow, the eighth annual National Asbestos Awareness Week will come to an end, marking the conclusion of a poignant and hopeful week for residents of Libby, Montana, and people who suffer from the effects of asbestos exposure throughout the country.
Every year since 2005, the United States Congress has passed a resolution declaring the first week of April as National Asbestos Awareness Week. This year was no exception, with the resolution introduced and unanimously passed in early March.
The resolution was introduced by Senator Max Baucus of Montana, a legislator for whom asbestos and the very real harm it causes hits close to home. For several years, Baucus has worked to draw attention to and get help for the residents of Libby, Montana, hundreds of whom have died as a result of asbestos exposure.
The mass exposure in Libby is the result of a vermiculite mine that was initially discovered in the 1880s. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until many years later that officials learned that the vermiculite was laced with asbestos which had been spreading throughout the mine and the town for decades.
The incident caused thousands of people to develop mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. What is most troubling is that the ailments don’t just affect mine workers (which would be troubling enough on its own) but Libby residents who were exposed to asbestos just by living hear the mine.
We have written extensively on the unique challenges facing the leaders and residents of Libby as they work to clean up their town, including an asbestos blog post about the unfortunate contamination of Montana rivers.
Source: Mesothelioma News, “National Asbestos Awareness Week A Step in the Right Direction,” Mar. 8, 2012