The Cost Of Vermiculite - Breathtaking

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Syphoniera

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To anyone with any awareness of the reality and history of asbestos use, propaganda and effects, the following quoted passage reads like nightmare instructions for a slow and unwitting suicide, because it is.
The latency for any or all of the multiple asbestos-related diseases possible might not expire before before the victim does, but in too many cases, it won't.
And the victim will likely never know what hit him.

Quote from 'Planting A Tank' post:

... “For the bottom layer mix potting vermiculite (from any nursury) with enough water to wet the vermiculite well but not so much that it floats. Squeeze and knead the vermiculite to get as much air out of it as possible, and also to separate the different layers of the vermiculite granules, making the mixture as fine as possible. When your hands look like they're covered in gold dust, you're done. Now add some soil that you have dug from outside (garden topsoil). See the suggestions for soils at the end of this section. You should mix in enough of this to turn the vermiculite from its shimmery golden color to grey. For example, I used about two gallons of Yolo loam with enough vermiculite to make a 3-inch layer in a 55 gallon tank, or about a quart mixed with enough vermiculite to make a 1.5-inch layer in a 10 gallon tank. The precise amounts are not important. After mixing in the soil, the mixture should no longer be runny with water. If it is, your tank will be quite cloudy when you add the water to fill it, so add more soil and vermiculite until it is no longer runny with water, but comparable to prepared cake mix before you cook it. ..."
Taken from here [URL="http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/kelly-intro.html"]http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/kelly-intro.html[/URL]
...

'... Squeeze and knead the vermiculite to get as much air out of it as possible, and also to separate the different layers of the vermiculite granules, making the mixture as fine as possible. When your hands look like they're covered in gold dust, you're done. ...'

I'm reading this in 2008, a century after the deadly results of asbestos exposure were obvious to the point where asbestos workers were being refused insurance by various U.S. companies.
Aquarists, even more than gardeners and lawncare workers, appear to be particularly expendable.

The information below is focused on U.S. data for convenience: references inclusive of the explosive global asbestos cancer epidemic wouldn't fit.

PLEASE READ AND CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING

For heaven's sake, PLEASE don't anybody ever use vermiculite.

I know there's endless propaganda promoted even by government agencies now filled with industry reps and interests, but the facts are out there, and some small, essential portion is below.
And it's NOT 'just Libby vermiculite' that's a hazard.

This explains how we were fooled before - we won't be fooled again.


http://www.maacenter.org/jobsites/states/newhampshire.php

'... The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that vermiculite, a common material used in the production of insulation, is often found in the same geographical areas as asbestos. Therefore any insulation that includes vermiculite may also contain asbestos. ...'

http://www.icdri.org/Medical/Asbestos_CoverUP.htm

'... Though two asbestos mines near Richmond, Virginia have been shut down for some time, another asbestos-contaminated mine lies nearby in Louisa, Va. Just like the infamous asbestos-containing vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, this vermiculite mine is also home to the highly toxic mineral. In 2000, the Mine Safety and Health Administration was prompted to perform an analysis of asbestos presence in the mine. Of the 30 air samples taken where miners worked, ever sample revealed toxic levels of asbestos, and the 12 ore and rock samples detected the presence of both tremolite and actinolite asbestos. Seven of the latter samples proved very high levels of asbestos are present in the mine, as several contained between 95 and 99 percent asbestos.

The Virginia Vermiculite mine sells approximately 100,000 tons of the material each year. The ore is then processed for use in hundreds of products that are distributed throughout the United States. Even though the mining of asbestos purportedly ended in 2002, this location continues to mine asbestos-contaminated ore. Evidently, the asbestos cover-up has entered a new phase in its ever-growing history. ...'

http://www.karmanos.org/app.asp?id=884

'In response to the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) identification of major sources of public asbestos exposure in Michigan and to address the need for early diagnosis and aggressive treatment of asbestos-related diseases, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) affiliated with Wayne State University joined forces to establish The National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers. ...'

http://www2.worksafebc.com/i/posters/2008/WS08_03.htm

'... The amount of asbestos in vermiculite is small (typically 1 to 3 percent) and can be difficult to detect. Samples should be sent only to laboratories that use proper testing methods for vermiculite. A qualified consultant will know which laboratories can accurately test vermiculite samples. ...'

'... If vermiculite containing even a trace of asbestos is disturbed (for example, during renovation or demolition), the number of asbestos fibres in the air of a residence can rise to more than 100 times the limit set by WorkSafeBC. ...'

http://murray.senate.gov/asbestos/asbestos-links.cfm

'... Utah Senator’s Bill Might Ban Asbestos (requires registration) - "Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who is pushing for the asbestos ban, showed up at a packed committee hearing with an enlarged photo of Minneapolis children playing in a pile of asbestos-tainted vermiculite. She said that under Hatch's bill, if the two children got sick decades later from breathing the asbestos fibers, 'neither one would receive a dime because they were not exposed to asbestos on the job.'"
- Minneapolis Star Tribune - June 5, 2003 ...'

'... Murray trying to link asbestos ban to bill for victims - Murray: "Why on Earth does Congress allow thousands of tons of asbestos to continue to be put into consumer products every year? This is the elephant in the room for this legislation.”
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer - June 4, 2003 ...'

'... Murray tries again to outlaw asbestos; Senator hopes federal study, rising profile will help new bill "Encouraged by a federal study's unexpected conclusion that asbestos should be banned, Sen. Patty Murray introduced legislation yesterday that would remove thousands of common products laced with the cancer-causing mineral from the market.” ...'

'... EPA vermiculite study finds high levels of asbestos"
- Minneapolis Star Tribune - February 7, 2003

Editorial: "Stopping asbestos is job for Congress, administration"
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer - January 15, 2003

"Grace tried to stifle warning; Company asked EPA not to warn public about asbestos insulation in homes"
- Spokesman Review - January 11, 2003
(NOTE: This site requires registration.)

Commentary: "Feds Wrong to Stop Zonolite Warning"
- Spokesman Review - January 3, 2003
(NOTE: This site requires registration.) ...'


The asbestos-related deaths that can be blamed on the victims typically are. Both these, like lung and colon cancers, and the ones that can't, like mesothelioma and asbestosis, because only caused by asbestos, are increasing.

http://reports.ewg.org/reports/asbestos/printerfriendly.php

'... Even more disturbing, deaths from asbestos in the United States appear to be increasing. Mesothelioma and asbestosis mortality rose steadily from 1979 through 1998. Asbestosis mortality, however, rose at more than three times the rate of mesothelioma, at 7.8 percent per year, compared to 2.3 percent annually for mesothelioma over the 24-year period 1979-2001. ...'

'... The resulting atrocity has been described and documented in detail by Paul Brodeur, in Outrageous Misconduct; Barry Castleman, in Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects; and more recently by Michael Bowker, in Fatal Deception, and Andrew Schneider, in An Air That Kills, with a particular focus on the W.R. Grace asbestos mine in Libby, Montana. ...'

'... We present here a small selection of insurance and manufacturing company documents made public through litigation. These papers reveal a brazen disregard for the men and women who, by the 1960s, were dying by the thousands each year for these businesses, a history of abuse and deception that is unparalleled in American industrial history. ...'

'... "The documents noted above, however, show corporate knowledge of the dangers associated with exposure to asbestos dating back to 1934. In addition, the plaintiffs' bar will probably take the position — not unreasonably — that the documents are evidence of a corporate conspiracy to prevent asbestos workers from learning that their exposure to asbestos could kill them. (One employee of Manville, who co-authored a 30-year-old document which is among the group of documents described above, was told by Manville's Chief of Litigation to hire his own lawyer after the document came to light because it was the opinion of the Chief of Litigation that the employee could be indicted for manslaughter.)"

— Memo from a trustee of the Manville Trust, 1988 ...'


'... During the 1950s and 60s, companies were fully aware of the potentially fatal consequences of working with asbestos, including its ability to cause cancer, yet millions of workers were exposed to asbestos on the job with virtually no health protections.

As early as WWII, ASARCO knew that asbestos permanently damaged the lungs leading to a progressive disease called asbestosis, which is sometimes fatal. "We knew very well then that inhalation of excessive asbestos dust over a period of time could cause asbestosis." [View document]

In a 1949 document, Exxon admitted that asbestos causes lung cancer, silicosis, fibrosis and erythema. This relatively early admission that asbestos causes lung cancer foretold literally hundreds of thousands of deaths from asbestos in subsequent decades, mortality that continues today in the United States at a rate of at least 5,000 deaths per year. In line with the policies of all asbestos users and manufacturers, this information was under the banner: "COMPANY CONFIDENTIAL: Not For Publication In Present Form." [View document] ...'

'... "Control of asbestos in the community air is impossible when you consider the contribution from brake linings, abrasion of piping, house siding or other materials widely handled by the general public."

— 1969 The Travelers Insurance Co. memo
[Excerpt | Full document]

Companies facing legal action were growing concerned about the implications of their extensive asbestos releases into the environment. The potential liability represented by environmental pollution with asbestos and the release of asbestos fibers in the home became a subject of grave financial concern within the industry.

"Asbestosis, lung or colon cancer claims whether comp or liability, from asbestos workers or those working with asbestos materials, are one thing, but the general public exposure and claim potential is much more serious."

— 1969 The Travelers Insurance Co. memo ...'

'... On June 18, 1975, The Travelers Insurance Company's Catastrophe Products Committee laid out "facts" well known to the asbestos industry and its insurers at the time:

"1) Asbestos causes cancer. Once asbestos fibers are ingested by a person, in no matter how small a quantity, they remain in the body and can be the cause of cancer 10 or 20 years later. There is no known way of removing the fibers from the body.

2) Asbestos is used in a wide variety of products: insulation, roofing, chemicals, wallboard, piping, etc."

— 1975 The Travelers Insurance Co. memo ...'


'... By the late 1940s, asbestos manufacturers, industries that used significant amounts of asbestos in their operations, and their insurance companies all acknowledged internally that asbestos caused lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Rather than adopt safety standards, switch to safer products, or provide protections for workers, these companies went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the truth about asbestos from workers, the public and the press. In some cases company officials went so far as to monitor the health of workers while deliberately withholding the results of this monitoring from them. Typically, however, worker health was not actively monitored, but decisive information on the dangers of asbestos was held secret. In other cases, companies interfered with and even rewrote scientific study results, restricted key information on asbestos hazards to management while keeping it from workers, and deliberately failed to label, or altered labels on, products.

A 1949 Exxon document described above illustrates the point. The document lists the diseases from asbestos exposure as "Silicosis, Fiberosis, Erythema & Cancer of Lungs" under the banner "COMPANY CONFIDENTIAL: Not For Publication In Present Form." [View document]

Asbestos diseases are latent, taking decades to appear after initial exposure. This latency period allowed companies to use workers for decades, knowing they were being injured or perhaps even killed by their work, yet also knowing that the men and women on the job would have no early warning that they might die from the asbestos they were exposed to.

For companies like Exxon, DuPont, and Dow that were sufficiently removed from basic asbestos manufacturing, withholding this information was relatively simple — workers would not ordinarily think of asbestos risks — and concealing information was a very effective way to reduce compensation payouts.

As put in a memo from Johns-Manville's medical director to corporate headquarters:

"The fibrosis of this disease is irreversible and permanent so that eventually compensation will be paid to each of these men. But, as long as the man is not disabled it is felt that he should not be told of his condition so that he can live and work in peace and the company can benefit by his many years of experience." (Brodeur, pg. 102)

By the early 1960s, the hazards of asbestos were well known within the management level of most companies that dealt with it. Workers and customers, in contrast, were generally kept in the dark or even lied to. A significant part of the asbestos industry, represented by the member companies of the Asbestos Textile Institute, described their management-only information strategy this way:

"...this subject should not be brought to the attention of other than management of our several companies, as any general discussion on this situation by sales personnel with users of our products, could possibly aggravate the situation and result in individual opinions which could be damaging."

[Source: Asbestos Textile Institute memo 11/6/64] ...'

'... Objective science was a big problem for the industry because it repeatedly showed how extraordinarily dangerous asbestos really was. In response, the industry manipulated results and eviscerated papers in largely successful efforts to bury or obscure results that might damage the bottom line. Some companies simply stopped conducting studies at all, knowing what the results would be and fearing that the public might find out.

A 1948 memo from a New York University professor of industrial medicine, himself a former Metropolitan Life Insurance Company employee, revealed that a report summarizing studies conducted by NYU College of Medicine scientists was revised prior to publication at the request of Metropolitan Life Insurance and other asbestos insurance companies in order to omit references to cancer:

"A meeting of the representatives of the underwriting companies was held in New York... It was the feeling of this group that all references to cancer or tumors should be omitted... It was decided that after these revisions have been concluded the report of these experimental studies should be published as promptly as possible, preferably in the Journal of Industrial Hygiene. Any report on human asbestosis should be separate and not a part of this report."

— 1948 NYU College of Medicine memo ...'

'... As word began to trickle out to the mainstream media about the appalling hazards of asbestos, controlling information flow and manipulating the media became a top priority for the industry. In June 1973, at a meeting of the Asbestos Textile Institute, asbestos industry representatives predicted the deaths of tens of thousands of employees from asbestos disease, and then noted that "the good news" was that the public was still vastly unaware of the problem.

The meeting's guest speaker, an executive from the Asbestos Information Association, began his presentation by laying out the facts:

"First, there is no doubt that the inhalation of substantial amounts of asbestos can lead to increased rates of various types of lung disease, including two forms of cancer. These are facts which cannot be denied, even if they do not apply in all circumstances and under all conditions. The medical literature is full of solid evidence linking asbestos to disease. In my office, I have on file more than 2,000 medical papers dealing with the health risks of asbestos and hundreds more are published every year."

— 1973 Asbestos Textile Institute memo
[View document]

The presenter plainly stated that insulation workers "were and still are dying from asbestos disease at an appalling rate." [View document]

Figures were put forward about what the industry expected to happen to its workers:

"Our prediction is that approximately 25,000 past and present employees in the asbestos industry have died or will eventually die of asbestos-related disease."

— 1973 Asbestos Textile Institute memo
[Excerpt | Full document]

Then came the "good news:"

"And the good news is that despite all the negative articles on asbestos-health that have appeared in the press over the past half-dozen years, very few people have been paying attention."

— 1973 Asbestos Textile Institute memo
[Excerpt | Full document]

Finally, the guest speaker laid out his thoughts about media coverage of asbestos issues:

"The press relations battle will therefore be won, not when the media starts to print positive or balanced articles about asbestos, but when the press ceases to print anything about asbestos at all. As long as negative news on asbestos-health continues to be generated, the media will continue to eat it up. The media will only cease to carry such stories when the generation of negative news ceases. It is as simple as that. Positive or balanced stories are a chimera, since they are, by definition, not newsworthy."

— 1973 Asbestos Textile Institute memo ...'

'... Asbestos is a public health problem of epidemic proportions. More than 100,000 people will die of asbestos diseases in the United States in the next ten years, and many more than that will be forced to live with painful, permanent and debilitating lung damage.

But asbestos is also a story of unparalleled corporate callousness. For more than 50 years, company after company was willing to lie to their workers about the known hazards of asbestos, mislead regulators, manipulate science, and delay worker safeguards. During all of this time, not a single producer, user, or insurance company stepped forward to defend the health and rights of workers who, with full knowledge of management and medical staff, were literally dying by the thousands from exposure to this substance. ...'

Yet, in 2008, aquarists are recommended to crush vermiculite to dust and work it with their hands...

Please, don't anybody EVER use vermiculite, or let anyone tell you that it's 'safe'.
The facts have been known and proven in court against the very interests who tell you so, using their own documentation.

And now, at least, now you've been given fair warning.
 
Wow, that's pretty disturbing. I guess I should be glad I couldn't find vermiculite when I was setting up the planted tank. I asked a friend who works for a gardening company, and apparently the only warning on the packages around here is to avoid handling dry vermiculite indoors, because of the dust.
 
That is disturbing. I wasn't actually thinking of using it, more of asking if that's the type of 'aquarium soil' someone was thinking of when I asked.
 
Relating to the part about kids playing in piles of asbestos contaminated vermiculite, the Canning City Council (my local shire) dumped a heap of asbestos contaminated soil on a public park opposite my house and many of the neighbourhood kids played in that. People walked their dogs through the area after the soil had been spread out over a section of the park. Other children rode their bicycles through the dirt and a couple of teenagers raced their remote control cars through the contaminated dirt. The council even sent its workers out to mow the area with ride on mowers, before using leaf blowers to blow the dust off the cyclepath. And when the council workers were sent out to clean the area up they didn’t have any protective clothing. That happened between August & January 2005 so in 20yrs time we will see how many of the neighbour's kids are still alive.
As for the council cleaning it up, they didn’t do a very good job of it and the area is still unsafe today. We had a state government election a couple of weeks ago and one of the politicians came out to the site (nearly 3 yrs after I asked him to) and he met with the WA Health Department, and a couple of council’s environmental health workers. And while they were there, they found some asbestos on the supposedly clean and safe area. The politician wrote to me informing me of this but claimed the area was safe. What a hypocrite.

Regarding asbestos in brake pads of cars, trucks, etc. The Australian government banned the use of asbestos in brakes a couple of years ago, but how many mechanics, (backyard & qualified) have been exposed to the stuff. And how many of them wash their overalls in the same washing machine as their family's clothes get washed in.
There are plenty of reports of women (who never worked with asbestos) dieing from asbestos related illness and most have been traced back to the washing machine. The hubby worked for James Hardy (asbestos company) and his clothes got washed in the same machine as the wife and children’s. There is also the probability that asbestos came off the workers clothing when they were travelling home from work, either by car or public transport. And if this is the case, how many other people have been exposed to it by simply sitting on a contaminated bus seat.
As for vermiculite being found in close proximity to asbestos, that kind of freaks me out a bit. Although I haven't handled much vermiculite, I was planning on getting some to use for seed raising (terrestrial plants). I'm now thinking Perlite might be a better material to use. Any ideas on that? I think Perlite is made from a volcanic rock.
 
Wow, that's pretty disturbing. I guess I should be glad I couldn't find vermiculite when I was setting up the planted tank. I asked a friend who works for a gardening company, and apparently the only warning on the packages around here is to avoid handling dry vermiculite indoors, because of the dust.


Talk about a narrow escape.
The evasive action taken and the red velvet strings pulled by toxic industry to avoid alerting the public and do damage control while preventing regulation is amazing.
I'm sorry about your friends job, as between the asbestos and the chemical exposure, the healthy, outdoors professional gardener tends to have a highish rate of predictable problems, although not everyone does, of course.

I'd had no idea myself: I'd thought asbestos was banned - and I'd only heard of the Libby vermiculite as a hazard.
I was lucky enough to get a copy of Bowker's Fatal Deception and started finding out how closely the chemical/asbestos industry was intertwined and supported by especially the Canadian and American governments.
So you can imagine my horror when I see people being told to cover themselves in vermiculite dust, and trying to get the information collected and out when the stupid 'puter's crawling at a snail's pace, in the hope of warning people here before somebody else risks their life and lungs...
And I noticed my apparently futile efforts at refreshing the computer when it wouldn't publish resulted in a triple post...



That is disturbing. I wasn't actually thinking of using it, more of asking if that's the type of 'aquarium soil' someone was thinking of when I asked.

I'm very glad about that - I just saw it and freaked.
But if this discourages anyone who was, and informs others, then it was lucky, wasn't it?
So you might have helped save a life or three...
 
Well, I wish they'd told me that before I used vermiculite with my pot plants...

Ah well, I think the excesses in my life will kill me before asbestos contamination does!
Thanks for the info though, very thorough informative post
 
Relating to the part about kids playing in piles of asbestos contaminated vermiculite, the Canning City Council (my local shire) dumped a heap of asbestos contaminated soil on a public park opposite my house and many of the neighbourhood kids played in that. People walked their dogs through the area after the soil had been spread out over a section of the park. Other children rode their bicycles through the dirt and a couple of teenagers raced their remote control cars through the contaminated dirt. The council even sent its workers out to mow the area with ride on mowers, before using leaf blowers to blow the dust off the cyclepath. And when the council workers were sent out to clean the area up they didn’t have any protective clothing. That happened between August & January 2005 so in 20yrs time we will see how many of the neighbour's kids are still alive.
As for the council cleaning it up, they didn’t do a very good job of it and the area is still unsafe today. We had a state government election a couple of weeks ago and one of the politicians came out to the site (nearly 3 yrs after I asked him to) and he met with the WA Health Department, and a couple of council’s environmental health workers. And while they were there, they found some asbestos on the supposedly clean and safe area. The politician wrote to me informing me of this but claimed the area was safe. What a hypocrite.

Regarding asbestos in brake pads of cars, trucks, etc. The Australian government banned the use of asbestos in brakes a couple of years ago, but how many mechanics, (backyard & qualified) have been exposed to the stuff. And how many of them wash their overalls in the same washing machine as their family's clothes get washed in.
There are plenty of reports of women (who never worked with asbestos) dieing from asbestos related illness and most have been traced back to the washing machine. The hubby worked for James Hardy (asbestos company) and his clothes got washed in the same machine as the wife and children’s. There is also the probability that asbestos came off the workers clothing when they were travelling home from work, either by car or public transport. And if this is the case, how many other people have been exposed to it by simply sitting on a contaminated bus seat.
As for vermiculite being found in close proximity to asbestos, that kind of freaks me out a bit. Although I haven't handled much vermiculite, I was planning on getting some to use for seed raising (terrestrial plants). I'm now thinking Perlite might be a better material to use. Any ideas on that? I think Perlite is made from a volcanic rock.

Shocking but typical behaviour - and right in your backyard...
I wonder what the percentage is of such instances we never find out about at all?
That politician is more than a hypocrite - lying to conceal a life-threatening hazard makes him liable, doesn't it?
Way too much industry affiliation/sympathy throughout government and public policy-making.
And it demonstrates what a tight a lid is kept on such situations, that even someone as well-informed as you didn't know about the general vermiculite-asbestos connection...

James Hardy is such a major &$%*#$@!murderer, yet I've come across very few references and not for some time; thanks for reminding me of the name, as I was going to use them as an example some time ago and couldn't remember their name to dig up anything.
I had a memory once, but I think it was left packed in a box several moves ago...
Having so many 'puter issues lately, too, darn it.

Seems Perlite manufacturers learnt from Grace and the others; of course, large corporations tend to use the same top PR firms for strategies, etc.
Perlite shouldn't be, I wouldn't think, constantly releasing particles at the same incredible rate as asbestos, but...
Started snooping a bit, just Googled Perlite and Perlite disease, found not much, but too clean - an industry worker health study w/out problems was about all, and there should have been something.
That tight a corporate lid indicates something nasty being carefully trapped in the bottom; According to Bowker's research, W.R. Grace, for example, squelched publicity in any manner possible, and silenced victims not deterred by fighting a major, ruthless corporate power in court while dying, by paying comp only with an attached gag order so severe that the victim effectively couldn't even cry on the neighbour's shoulder about what they were dying from without being sued...
I tried Googling Perlite lawsuits.
Turns out there have been thousands, growing over the years, as of 2004/05 anyway, but figured I had enough and stopped there.
So some info follows - and this'll teach us to assume anything is the way it's so carefully presented.

Sorry about the delay answering, but between my habit of poking around on the 'puter for a bit between fish, dog and other stuff, actually finding some suitable things, and figuring out what to cut...
Left a lot on the Perlite 2005 meeting minutes as it's so telling, such care in speaking being taken that it's the accumulation of detail in fighting protective regulations which indicates the actual potential for hazard and the willingness to risk the health of others generally, and the environment - and some of what that varied hazard is.
Can always be ignored if not of interest, but people are using this stuff (and, like vermiculite, animal waste, and other typically toxic garbage, Perlite's fed to animals and possibly people) and if we're aware of what's often behind the products we use - and the callous corporate attitudes which determine product quality and safety in so many cases - we'll be more likely to find out about prospective hazards before bringing them into our homes, fish tanks, yards, etc.
When the common corporate reaction to a potential emission/product-related health problem is not to minify the risk posed by the problem, and 'isn' it too bad it'll cost money and lose some sales' but to cover it over so people aren't warned or the risk reduced...

Anyway, 1st thing:

Perlite may be asbestos contaminated if processed in the same facility.
The manufacturers say Perlite's safe and entirely unrelated to asbestos or vermiculite, and produces no hazards...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perlite

... Vermiculite (Many expanders of perlite are also exfoliating vermiculite and belong to both trade associations) ...

http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/shine/docs/SupremePerlite.pdf

... Breathing in asbestos fibers that can be released from asbestos contaminated vermiculite may increase a person’s likelihood of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the outer lining of the lungs and/or abdominal cavity),
lung abnormalities and breathing disorders.

Repeated and prolonged exposure to high levels of asbestos increases the chances of developing these diseases.

What is the history of the site?

From 1968 until 1974, the Supreme Perlite facility processed vermiculite at their facility at 4600 N. Suttle Road in Portland. Some of the vermiculite was from Libby, Montana, and was found to contain asbestos.

The facility exfoliated (expanded or “popped”) vermiculite to manufacture attic insulation. The Supreme Perlite plant

processed more than 600 tons of Libby vermiculite. ...


http://www.perlite.org/pdf/health.pdf

According to the manufacturers, any problems are only nuisance level, no health effects (like previous asbestos industry claims) and that the most recent study found no health effects - which sounds suspicious to me.

Would be potential for silicosis, should think, with heavy exposure...
And one site I came upon had a mention by a contractor that some fine Perlite in large quantities was very dusty, exposing secondary workers/consumers as well....

But volcanic soot, for example, doesn't produce the sort of deadly effects of diesel emissions... ?

The complete lack of info even regarding production/consumption may be typical of industry (like the asbestos industry) with very strong governmental connections, not enough info to say.
Silicosis is a major (think pretty much restricted to occupational, officially anyway - too many unknowns/cover-ups. etc., generally for more than rough guess by the ignorent) problem worldwide, if not (I believe, never looked into silicosis specifically) as progressive or widespread as asbestosis, but no publicity given either...

http://www.mii.org/Minerals/photoperlite.html

... Volcanic glass forms when molten rock (lava) pours out of a volcano and cools very, very quickly. Because is cools so quickly, there is no time for crystals to form or for water to escape. Instead, the lava hardens immediately into this glass-like material containing 2-5% water. It is a silicate rock, which means that it has a high percentage of silica (Si).

Perlite is known in industry in two forms. Crude perlite is prepared by the crushing and screening of perlite into various size fractions. Expanded perlite is perlite after it has been heated. ...

... Unfortunately there is limited information about perlite production and consumption in the world. However, it is still accurate to say that the United States is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of crude perlite and expanded perlite. A number of western states including Utah and Oregon produce perlite, with New Mexico being the most important perlite-producing state.

The United States, however, is not the only significant producer of perlite. Other countries that are believed to produce large amounts of crude and expanded perlite include China, Greece, Italy, Philippines, Mexico, and Turkey. Even though the United States has large resources of perlite, most is still imported, with nearly all imported from Greece.

Uses

Perlite is used in a number of different situations. The majority of perlite is used in construction products, mainly ceiling tiles and roof insulation products, but also as refractory bricks (a refractory brick is a brick designed to withstand very high temperatures), pipe insulation, and filling in masonry block construction. For example, loose perlite is poured into holes in concrete blocks after they are laid in place to improve the insulating quality of the construction. Perlite is also used as an insulator in other ways in the construction of buildings. It reduces noise and, since it is non-combustible, it also improves the fire resistance of different construction components in buildings.

Perlite is an important commodity in the horticulture industry where it is mixed with soil. The addition of perlite to soil increases the amount of air (i.e., oxygen) held in the soil, as well as the amount of water retained by the soil. This obviously improves the growing conditions for plants. This represents approximately 10% of annual perlite consumption.

Perlite is also used in a variety of different applications. For example, it is used as a filter for pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and beverages, and as a filler in the production of plastics and cements. ...

Googled Perlite lawsuits:

Sounds like asbestos meetings - squelch safety while presenting product as safe...
And I'd suggest reading through the minutes below for an idea of attitudes and actualities because the presentation here, of course, is that of a product promoter, as usual, despite the results to others.

And it sounds as though it may be toxic to plants as well...

http://www.perlite.org/meetings/04/us_mid_year/minutes.pdf

... Litigation Issues – Regulatory - Patton Boggs, the law firm that will be leading possible litigation against ACGIH has also started a "Reform OSHA Coalition." The Coalition first focused on supporting comments to the SBREFA Panel that recently reviewed OSHA’s proposed rulemaking on crystalline silica. An economic analysis is in progress and advocacy activity is ongoing including the tracking of related activities. The House is working on three OSHA reform bills.

Worker - The RAND Corp. has a proposal before them for research to study silica litigation, i.e., an analysis of existing silica litigation and the prospects for it. They have done several studies on asbestos and asbestos litigation which have helped frame the debate on asbestos litigation. The study was suggested by the insurance industry. Such a report, if conducted which serve as a basis for policy makers to draw parallels to see whether or not some intervention activities would be appropriate. The cost would be ~$400,000 and there are unconfirmed commitments for over $300,000. And there is now apparently a report out on the same subject by Morgan Stanley. Despite all of the current activity on the subject, most believe it is not about to spin out of control and such a document would bring assurances to stockholders, lenders and insurers.

Fluorine in Perlite – There was some discussion of the need for information and data on fluorine in Perlite and its impact on plants and in particular a certain type of Lily. It was agreed that the Technical Committee, and Mr. DiNardo as its chair, would follow up the issue. ...)


'... Bioterrorism Act of 2002 – The Bioterrorism Act of 2002 was developed to insure that the food and drug supply in the US is not threatened by acts of terrorism. Because Perlite filter-aids are used as food processing aids and in some instances as an animal feed or feed additive, that potential exists. Even as a filteraid the potential for a residual particle or two to find its way into the filtered product exists.
A more complete review of the Act suggests that Perlite is exempt if used solely as a Food Contact Agent. This comes from the FDA handbook on the subject. On the other hand, if used as a Food Additive (intended for human or animal consumption) then registration would be required. Calls to the FDA have only brought conflicting statements. Form 3537, Food Facility Registration is the only available registration form for this Act and has no entry for products coming in contact with but not retained by the food. Because of the nature of the issue, each facility should make a determination as to how its products are being used. It is probably safer to register than not, although a strong case can be made that there is no intent in the filter aid usage for the perlite to end up in the human food chain. While the form is not designed for other than food additive applications, filling out the company name and requested information where available will at least notify FDA and likely trigger a return call that will result in the appropriate guidance. ...


http://www.perlite.org/meetings/05/annual_...tingMinutes.pdf


Minutes of the Perlite Institute

2005 Annual Meeting ...

...
Crystalline silica is an important issue for this industry despite the lack of any credible findings

that it has impacted the health of Perlite workers or consumers of Perlite. There is continuing

worldwide pressure to eradicate silicosis through regulatory action. While there is no evidence

of silicosis in Perlite workers, which is insufficient reason to relax. Prolonged and excessive

exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) does cause silicosis but a clear threshold has

not been sufficiently defined. The relationship between exposure to RCS and lung cancer, and

more recently renal and auto-immune diseases, remain as important ongoing questions, but

many scientists believe that most, if not all, of the diseases that may be attributable to RCS

dust exposure would also be eliminated by preventing silicosis. Unfortunately, but not

surprisingly, many of the exposure limits under consideration are in many ways significantly

more conservative than the science indicates and could impact Perlite operations despite the

excellent health record. ...

... Returning to silica issue, in the US, OSHA continues its pursuit of comprehensive silica

standard but, as we have seen in the past, progress towards their goal continues to be slow for

a number of reasons. ACGIH seems more determined than ever to lower the recommended

Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for RCS despite potential legal action in opposition to their

process and methodologies. And not to be outdone, Cal-OSHA is now considering a reduced

workplace (occupational) exposure level an order of magnitude below current levels. Also in

California, Cal-EPA’s Scientific Review Panel (SRP) has accepted a new fenceline air

standard that could signal a new round of environmental regulations impacting not only the

facilities that produce Perlite, but also those that use it as well. Implementation will ultimately

be the issue and ironically it may have more impact outside of California than within California.

After the workplace issues are settled, the focus will ultimately shift to further defining the

health effects, the environmental issues, and the course of future litigation.

With the settlement of the vast majority of asbestos suits, there have been an unprecedented

number of silica lawsuits (in the thousands). While this has become of some concern for the

general industry, there is no reason at present to believe that it will spin out of control or have

any significant impact on the Perlite industry. If it does, tort reform legislation is likely. Liability

insurance could become a problem, however.

In Europe, we are dealing with SCOEL’s recommendation for a reduced Occupational

Exposure Limit (OEL) for RCS dust and the potential for listing RCS as a carcinogen. This has

prompted the formation of a new coalition, the Industry Silica Agreement Council (ISAC), to

draft a Social Dialogue Agreement (SDA) or simply a voluntary initiative to limit RCS

exposures. Any regulatory actions dealing with crystalline silica could go on hold for several

months while the SDA is being negotiated. Regardless of the outcome, voluntary initiative or

regulation, considerable effort will be necessary to achieve industry compliance. In a worstcase

scenario, regulation would come under the Carcinogen Directive resulting in a significant

business impact. This has provided the motivation to pursue the SDA. Other paths, including

new research, industrial hygiene monitoring, dustiness characterizations and others are also

being pursued both in support of the SDA and in the event the SDA is not successful as well.

Environmental issues related to RCS are also popping up at an increased rate. It is clear that

the path forward will require tightening up on many industrial minerals operations and that

could include Perlite facilities.

In addition, the Health Council of the Netherlands has released a Health-based Reassessment

of Perlite based on crystalline silica content and reaching a somewhat questionable

conclusion. We continue to be driven by, follow, and engage to the extent possible each of

these actions. ...

...

Feed Additive (animal) Notification -

The notification process became more tedious than originally envisioned. Confusion on what

the Commission would accept in the way of products and “technological” applications and

working through a third party (a consortium of FEFANA, FEFAC, EMFEMA and others) were

the reasons. Nevertheless, the documents were filed on time. It should be noted that there is a

difference between use as a feed additive and direct use as a food, which would not come

under this regulation.

In conjunction with the above regulation the EC has started discussions on heavy metals limits

(As, Cd, Pb, Hg) and Fluorine to be set for products used as feed additives. They have

decided to focus first on additives belonging to the categories impacting industrial minerals.

The proposed limit for Cd is 2 ppm and for Pb 30 ppm. Values for other substances including

As, Hg and F are yet to come. The analytical methodology will also have to be established.

Sustainable Development (SD) –

Sustainable Development remains a main focus of the extractive industry sector in Europe of

which the minerals industry is a part. The European Institutions are developing new regulations

and legislations within the framework of SD and the industry will have to respond however the

requirements may be more subtle for some than others depending on their focus towards long

range strategies and the environment. ...

...We have mentioned previously concerns for lowered stack emissions in European countries,

particularly in Germany. Now there is word that the Netherlands has reduced its stack

emissions requirements for particulates to 10 mg/m3. Levels this low may require expensive

membrane filters. In Spain, it is 20 mg/m3 which is much more achievable.


(My comment - where a businessperson accepts safety costs as business costs, the corporate octopus has each expanding tentacle loaded with greedy little share-holding (and other) hands all demanding bigger profit each quarter - and they keep selling more shares, this and endless profit increase having evidently become their main, if not only, purpose.
So costs have to be cut continually to keep the profits up, as nothing can grow forever, and they typically eat themselves from the inside and the foundations up, as the business apparently ceases to matter - a MacDonald's-related press statement some time back saying that the real estate mattered more than the franchises - and they issue more shares while covering up safety/pollution issues, firing staff, cutting wages and benefits, procedures, product quality, closing plants/stores, etc., to buy up competition and to issue more shares...
To the layperson with a vague concept, such as I, it's unsustainable insanity in every respect.)


Crystalline Silica

US

Cal-EPA Reference Exposure Level (REL) –

After approval by California’s Scientific Review Panel (SRP), on February 10, 2005 California

EPA’s OEHHA issued the following statement:

“In accordance with Health and Safety Code, Section 44300 et seq. (The

Air Toxics Hot Spots Information and Assessment Act, AB 2588, Connelly

as amended by SB 1731, Calderon), the Office of Environmental Health

Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) hereby adopts a chronic Reference

Exposure Level (REL) for SILICA (CRYSTALLINE, RESPIRABLE).”

No change to the originally recommended REL of 3 Lg/m3 was made.

OEHHA did not provide a means of measurement to obtain ambient data on the basis of the

particle size measured by personal samplers, an issue for this REL. They have left a

substantial gap between the recommended REL and a means for either industry or the

regulators to measure/monitor it. A methodology for implementation will have to be worked out

by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

The California Mining Association (CMA) and the Coalition for Reasonable Regulation of

Naturally Occurring Substances (CRRNOS) have concluded that the main focus now should

be on working with the Air Resources Board on the implementation.

The establishment of an REL could signal a new round of environmental regulations impacting

not only the facilities that produce diatomite, but those that use it as well. Implementation will

ultimately be the issue and ironically it may have more impact outside of California than within

California because other agencies (world-wide) may only look at the number and not the

methodology under which it was developed (epidemiological data using personal samplers).

The REL is related more to PM4 than to PM10.

(My interjection - loosely speaking, the smaller the particle, the more easily inhalable, (etc.) the more difficult of detection, the larger quantity of particles re similar mass.
One wonders if Perlite does perhaps shed particles in a fashion somewhat more similar to asbestos than one may have assumed, although prob just processing and through friction in movement.)

ACGIH Notice of Intended Changes (NIC) –

ACGIH recently confirmed that a meeting of the TLV inorganic dust sub-committee was held

during the first weekend in October and silica was discussed. However they would not provide

any information on the meeting because “it still has to go to the ACGIH Board of Directors.”

They continue to operate in a cloak of secrecy.

In the meantime, on November 17th, Patton Boggs filed a lawsuit against ACGIH in the Federal

Court of Middle Georgia on several substances including crystalline silica, diesel, copper and

bromated solvents. The suit is being funded primarily by the NMA (National Mining

Association) and some other unnamed groups.

A hearing for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to enjoin ACGIH from taking any action on

a TLV for silica (revising or publishing) and the three other substances was held on November

23, 2004 and denied. The Plaintiffs however filed an amended complaint. A motion to dismiss

the case was filed by the defendants and that motion was denied on March 4th and the suit will

be allowed to continue and is now entering the discovery phase. Future status on the suit will

be reported as information becomes available.

Also the DOL (Department of Labor) solicitor has instructed both OSHA and MSHA not to

participate in consensus standards, at least until the lawsuit is settled. NIOSH has also

withdrawn from the subcommittee.

The CSP had requested attendance at any meetings that would be held during which the TLVs

for crystalline silica would be discussed. A response was received from ACGIH’s counsel that

there would be no response to the request as long as the current suit on the ACGIH process

was pending.

ACGIH has released new documentation on crystalline silica that is remarkably similar to the

last one issued in 2004. Their basic conclusion remains the same, that exposure to RCS can

cause fibrosis (silicosis) and fibrosis is a risk factor for lung cancer. Thus, their

recommendation for a TLV of 0.025 mg/m3 and listing as an A2 (suspected carcinogen)

remains on the Notice of Intended Change (NIC) list for 2005 for both quartz and cristobalite.

OSHA’s Comprehensive Silica Standard –

There is very little new to report on this future regulation. Eventually OSHA will develop and

publish rulemaking on a comprehensive silica standard. But, as has often been the case with

OSHA, the months turn into years and the years into… The main issue (for the Perlite industry)

will be the PEL and the ancillary provisions (extent of the required medical surveillance and

exposure monitoring). Also of concern is the proposed language for package labeling:

DANGER

CRYSTALLINE SILICA

CAUSES CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE

(My addition: the asbestos industry successfully fought such labeling/warning signs within workplaces [read Bowker's Fatal Deception] long ago.
This is one of the reasons people working with vermiculite have such inadequate warnings on the bags, another being the remarkable lengths used to avoid public knowledge of the common contamination issue..)

OSHA has published a proposed comprehensive standard for Chromium +6. It is thought that

this could be the forerunner for a silica standard. The PEL is low but the ancillary provisions

are not as stringent as one would have anticipated, especially in regard to medical surveillance

and protective devices.

John Henshaw, the under Secretary of Labor for OSHA has resigned his position and this

could have some additional impact on slowing down the proceedings on a comprehensive

silica standard. Proposed rulemaking is not considered likely now until late in 2005 or in 2006

at the earliest.

MSHA’s Silica Standard –

MSHA states in its Semi-annual Regulatory Agenda that it “is considering several options to

reduce miners’ exposure to crystalline silica” and indicates that a Request for Information

would be published in July 2004. This seems to be a retreat from last December, when the

Regulatory Agenda indicated that an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPRM”)

would be issued in May 2004, which did not occur. It is quite likely that MSHA will follow

OSHA. ...'

...
Environmental Issues -

Ambient air monitoring in the EU has become an emerging issue resulting in concerns for

regulating crystalline silica emissions.

Alerts have already been received from two companies that the issue is arising at the local

level. Reports of activity are coming from France (a quarry impact study contains a new

chapter on health risks for the neighborhood), Italy and Germany (environmental authorities in

both countries are looking at quartz in the ambient air).

The EC seems to be moving in a direction similar to the USEPA. For example the Clean Air for

Europe (CAFE) program to establish a long-term, integrated strategy to tackle air pollution and

to protect against its effects on human health and the environment has as its objectives:

• To develop, collect and validate scientific information on the effects of air pollution

(including validation of emission inventories, air quality assessment, projections, costeffectiveness

studies & integrated assessment modelling)

• To support the implementation & review the effectiveness of existing legislation & to

develop new proposals as and when necessary

• To ensure that the requisite measures are taken at the relevant level, and to develop

structural links with the relevant policy areas

• To determine an integrated strategy (by 2004 at the latest) to include appropriate

objectives & cost-effective measures. To disseminate to the general public the

information arising from the program

How crystalline silica will play out at the environmental level remains to be determined, but it

will likely be tied to what happens at the regulatory level for chemical substances.

It is also difficult to predict at this point what impact, if any, the recent decision in California will

have on any European regulations.

Crystalline silica is under scrutiny by the European Policy Interpretation Network on Children's

Health and Environment (PINCHE) as a carcinogen. The project has been funded by the

European Union for three years and is designed to provide decision makers, environmental

health professionals, and other stakeholders with information about the relationship between

environmental pollution and health relevant for policy development in the area of children's

health. ...
...

Netherlands Reassessment of Perlite OEL –

The Netherlands has recently released a health-based reassessment of the Occupational

Exposure Limit (OEL) for Perlite (October 2003). In it they state: "The committee recommends

a health-based occupational exposure limit for

Perlite (containing <0.7% crystalline silica) of 5 mg/m3 as respirable dust and 10

mg/m3 as inhalable dust, as 8-hour time-weighted averages (TWA). A skin

notation is not deemed necessary. For Perlite containing 0.7% crystalline silica,

the MAC value for crystalline silica should be applied."

Obviously they are treating Perlite as a nuisance dust except if the CS content is greater than

0.7%. This is a significant concern. There is a downside to arguing the decision however,

because the OEL for respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is 0.075 mg/m³ in the Netherlands and

for all products containing RCS the MAC value is to be applied. So in effect they have given

Perlite a waiver to 0.7% RCS.

Other International -

Australia –

There seems to be some debate as to just what the Australian National Occupational Health

and Safety Commission plan to do. Previously it was reported that they apparently reversed

course and decided to not only propose a lowering of the occupational exposure limit for

crystalline silica on the basis of silicosis but also to designate CS as a carcinogen and as

responsible for other health effects including auto-immune diseases. Some in Australia are

questioning that so we will have to wait and see. The issue is being followed by several

industry people who do business in Australia.

Canada –

Quebec's Commission de la Santé et de la Sécurité Travail (CSST) (Occupational Health and

Safety Commission) is proposing to lower the Quebec occupational exposure limit (OEL) for

crystalline silica (quartz) from 0.1 mg/m3 to 0.05 mg/m3. The CSST committee deciding on this

matter was scheduled to meet on June 9. The CSP submitted comments through the Quebec

Mining Association. During the meeting the "Conseil du Patronat," a Quebec employer’s

association, objected to the reduction of the limit based on the documents provided by the

Unimin Corp. and the CSP. The CSST and the Union members asked to read the documents

before going forward with the discussion, so the subject was continued to their September 14

meeting. As of this writing we do not have any additional information.

Also, under the updated Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) 849 substances have

been listed with reference to “greatest potential for exposure” and crystalline silica is included

as a carcinogen. This could trigger a health assessment by Health Canada. ...

...

Silica Litigation Issues –

Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) produced a sector report on silica: A Growing Concern for

the Property-Casualty Insurance Industry which provides a near up-to-date analysis of silica

litigation and how CSFB sees it in the future from a carrier’s perspective. They note that silica

is an emerging issue and will increasingly be on insurers’ radars. They do not see it as

another asbestos although they note the many similarities and suggest that some of the

current carrier’s reserves may be under funded for silica litigation. They further note that

should it begin to show signs of spinning out of control, tort reform legislation would be likely.

They further acknowledge that it is still too soon to predict the outcome; however some carriers

have already developed a silica exclusion. In an attempt to quantify the issue, they see a

potential for $10 billion liability, substantially less than for asbestos.

In addition Guy Carpenter & Company, Inc., the world's leading risk and reinsurance specialist

and a part of the Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., has released an update to its 2004

report, Silica - A Litigation Sandstorm. According to the report “two recent developments in

silica litigation, although limited in scope, allow some cautious optimism that silica may not be

following the asbestos litigation path.”

The Specter bill before the US Congress dealing with the asbestos trust fund may include

some provisions to either prevent claimants who have been or are being compensated for

asbestos injury claims from double dipping by claiming silica injury as well or at least set the

parameters under which a person can make a dual claim. Lastly, the Rand Corp. proposal to

develop a white paper on silica litigation, which was discussed in our last meeting, is still on

the table.

IMA-Europe Revisited –

IMA-Europe’s membership committee is exploring the creation of an “orphan” mineral section

to allow smaller associations and companies in the industrial minerals business to become a

part of IMA. This would include for example, Vermiculite, Sepiolite, Wollastonite, Perlite, Mica,

Zeolite, etc. The dues (fee) would be ¼ share per mineral (~7,000 Euros) with the hope that if

enough companies from each group joined they would create their own separate section.

IMA’s Board favored the concept and it will continue to be explored. Mr. Mirliss showed an

educational CD-ROM developed by IMA-Europe in the context of their awareness campaign

and asked the members whether they had any interest in rejoining IMA-Europe with this new

proposed structure. ...


An awful lot like the asbestos industry...
 

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