Recognized as one of the six types of asbestos, tremolite is considered to be one of the more deadly forms of asbestos due to its long, sharp, needle-like fibers that are easily inhaled and embedded in the soft tissue of the lungs and surrounding organs. Tremolite is generally found in other minerals such as vermiculite, which is a type of magnesium aluminum silicate material used for construction and agriculture.
The small town of Libby, Montana was most affected by this hazardous material when nearly 10% of the population died from asbestos-related diseases after decades of mining vermiculite exposed the residents and workers to the toxic dust. It’s estimated that 400 residents have passed away with another 3,000 still suffering from asbestosis and mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining of the lung and is almost always fatal. The high fatality rate in the small town of Libby, Montana warrants a more thorough investigation of the characteristics of tremolite asbestos. OSHA consistently states that there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber including shorter, curlier types. A recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine backs up this claim with a lung cancer case of an individual who was exposed to small amounts of asbestos fibers at a gabbro quarry.
Asbestos fiber length are measured in micrometers (um), a common measurement used to measure wavelengths, infrared radiation, and even cells and bacteria. Particles isolated from this particular patient’s lung were found to be less than 10um in length – so small that it is about the width of a stand of spider web silk. The patient was a non-smoker and his wife, who had also worked with him in the quarry, had passed away years earlier from mesothelioma. The study concludes that that short tremolite fibers will induce lung cancer, and possibly mesothelioma for those exposed.
Despite overwhelming evidence of the connection between asbestos exposure and cancer, many parts of the world have not banned the carcinogen, including the United States. Asbestos is still mined heavily outside the United States with, 42,000 tons of tremolite asbestos fibers mined annually in countries like India. The carcinogenic qualities of asbestos have affected hard working individuals who worked in industrial, chemical, electrical, and other trade settings for decades. Men are more likely to be diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease because on average, more men worked in asbestos-contaminated industries.
If you are suffering from an asbestos-related disease, it is imperative you contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The statute of limitations to move forward with a lawsuit varies from state-to-state, and by not acting quickly, your window of opportunity may expire.
Kohyama N, et.al., “Lung Cancer in Patient with Predominately Short Tremolite Fibers in His Lung,” American Journal of Industrial Medicine (July 26, 2017). [Link]