Asbestos-exposure victims, families in NJ offered free medical screening

September 1st, 2006

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is offering free medical screening to people who may have been exposed to asbestos at the former Zonolite/W.R. Grace site in Hamilton, New Jersey.

That plant, which operated from 1948 to 1991, processed vermiculite that came from a mine in Libby, Montana. Vermiculite-based products made there included structural fireproofing, thermal insulation, lightweight concrete aggregates and horticultural vermiculite. The vermiculite was found to contain asbestos, which has been linked to mesothelioma and other respiratory diseases.

Family members who lived with the workers may also be eligible for screening. It has been shown that family members exposed to asbestos via the workers’ bodies, hair and clothes are also vulnerable to mesothelioma.

ATSDR was established by Congress in 1980 under the Superfund law to assess public health at sites on the Environmental Protection Agency’s national priorities list, as well as other sites when petitioned. After the screening, people who are determined to have been exposed to asbestos are advised to contact a doctor and possibly a mesothelioma lawyer.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for decades. But exposure to asbestos has been proven to greatly increase a person’s chance of getting mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer. Every year, nearly 10,000 people (including 3,000 in the United States alone) get a mesothelioma diagnosis.

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