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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2009, Article ID 189509, 10 pages
Research Article

An Evaluation of Potential Occupational Exposure to Asbestiform Amphiboles near a Former Vermiculite Mine

1Department of Safety, Health, and Industrial Hygiene, Montana Tech of The University of Montana, 1300 W. Park Street, Butte, MT 59701, USA
2Center for Environmental Health Sciences, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA

Received 15 May 2009; Accepted 10 September 2009

Academic Editor: Bruce Case

Copyright © 2009 Julie F. Hart et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Amphibole asbestos (AA) has been detected on the surface of tree bark in forests neighboring an abandoned vermiculite mine near Libby, Montana. In the present study, simulations were performed to assess potential AA exposure associated with United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (FS) occupational activities. Bark samples were collected prior, and personal breathing zone (PBZ) and Tyvek clothing wipe samples were collected during and immediately after trials that simulated FS activities. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analyses revealed AA bark concentrations up to 15 million structures per square centimeter . AA was detected in 25% of the PBZ TEM samples. AA was detected on wipe samples collected from all activities evaluated. This research demonstrates the potential for airborne exposure and transport of AA in the Kootenai National Forest. These findings are especially relevant to those that work in the area and to the general public who may conduct recreational activities.