Despite the EPA’s slogan advertising “40 years of protecting health and the environment,” recent developments have exposed discrepancies in that promise. Best exemplifying that failure, the EPA has not properly alerted as many as 35 million homeowners of a dangerous carcinogen they might have in their homes.
That material, known as Zonolite insulation, was produced in Libby Montana for decades, despite an internal 1982 EPA report warning of the dangers of this material. That mine remained open an additional eight years because of the organization’s unwillingness to take action and publish the report. Eventually, as the years accumulated, the EPA’s poor handling of the situation became even more dangerous to the organization as more and more individuals became sick.
Today, more than 400 deaths in the small settlement of Libby have been attributed to the mine’s production of this material. What makes Zonolite so dangerous is that the primary material used in its production, vermiculite, was contaminated with asbestos fibers. When individuals are exposed to asbestos, the material can embed in the tissue surrounding organs, leading to the development of a cancer known as mesothelioma. Unfortunately, mesothelioma symptoms remain latent for 20 to 50 years, often appearing only in the cancer’s later stages, making treatment difficult.
However, the EPA’s inaction has not only devastated the small town that mined for the material, but the millions of homes that potentially hold this particular brand of insulation in their walls and ceilings. From 1919 to 1970, more than 70% of all U.S. vermiculite produced came from this mine in Libby. Actions such as the EPA and federal government’s funding for winterization in homes, which involved the use of large amounts of insulation, indicates their responsibility in spreading this threat, helping to explain their hesitancy to alert homeowners.
As more and more Americans begin to exhibit symptoms of mesothelioma, we must face the reality that our government cannot always be trusted to fulfill its responsibilities to citizens. This situation, growing from one small town’s tribulations to a national catastrophe, represents yet another example of our government’s unwillingness to take action until the situation becomes too great to ignore. The EPA’s clear downplaying of the situation that began in Libby and has since spread across the country is completely overshadowed by painful realities, such as the devastating mesothelioma life expectancy those infected with this toxin can expect.http://www.bitsofnews.com/content/view/6852/