A story on National Public Radio that aired on 11/2/2006 illustrated the asbestos problems facing the people of Libby Montana.
Although W.R. Grace has a number of asbestos processing plants throughout the country, a large mining operation in Libby, Montana was shut down by the U.S. government in 1990 in response to the dangers posed by asbestos mines. Unfortunately, more than 35 million people have some form of Zolonite and vermiculite in their homes.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous element that has been used since ancient times. Historically, asbestos has been used in a diverse amount of products such as fabrics and lamp wicks. Ancient peoples valued the tough material, because it is flame repellant and durable. The modern post-industrial era utilizes asbestos in over 3000 products, most extensively in the construction industry. Tiling, cement, insulation, car brakes and gaskets are all known to contain asbestos.