Latest Issue of Science News


Asbestos fibers: Barking up a tree

In Libby, Mont., mining of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite—a natural insulating material—sickened or killed many workers and townspeople in recent decades. Now, a study finds that even 16 years after the vermiculite mine closed, area trees hold substantial amounts of asbestos, rendering them hazardous to a separate group of workers.

Logging is a major employer for people around Libby. With asbestos a potential contaminant in dust, Tony J. Ward of the University of Montana in Missoula and his colleagues wondered whether asbestos from the mining operations might have settled on local trees.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.