Vermiculite Northwest - Spokane WA | Region 10 | US EPA

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Vermiculite Northwest - Spokane WA


About the Site
The Vermiculte Northwest site was home to a vermiculite exfoliation plant from 1951 to 1973. The facility was operated by Vermiculite Northwest, Inc. and later by W.R. Grace and Company. Vermiculite ore from Libby, Montana was received at the Site via rail car. The vermiculite product manufactured at the Site was sold under the trade name Zonolite. Both vermiculite ore from Libby and the manufactured product Zonolite are known to contain a significant quantity of amphibole asbestos. Records show that up to 10,317 tons of vermiculite ore were processed at the Site from January 1967 to October 1970. More information

Site Activities
In 2009, EPA is conducting additional site investigation at both the Spokane County-owned site and the surrounding residential neighborhood to evaluate the extent and level of residual asbestos contamination in soils and whether asbestos in soils, even at low concentrations, can readily become airborne and present an inhalation hazard.
Asbestos is a group of similar minerals the distinguishing characteristic of separable, long, thin fibers. These fibers are too small to be seen without the aid of a microscope and are only dangerous if they are disturbed, causing the fibers to float in the air where they are easily inhaled. Scientists have recognized asbestos as a health threat to humans because these fibers can be inhaled and cause cancer and other pulmonary diseases. These fibers are very difficult to remove from the lungs and the time lag between inhalation and any adverse health manifestations can be as long as 30 or more years.

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