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FW: [CEHNList] Hazards of vermiculite-containing garden products

  • Subject: [cg] FW: [CEHNList] Hazards of vermiculite-containing garden products
  • From: Erin Belka <belka@son.umaryland.edu>
  • Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2001 11:01:51 -0400

Point to ponder

-----Original Message-----
From: 	David Wallinga [mailto:dwallinga@iatp.org] 
Sent:	Wednesday, June 20, 2001 9:58 AM
To:	CEHN List
Subject:	[CEHNList] Hazards of vermiculite-containing garden products

The Columbus Dispatch has published an interested series of articles
focusing on the Scotts company in Ohio that makes fertilizer, potting soil
and other lawn care products, some containing vermiculite. Vermiculite is
mined in Montana, South Carolina and Virginia today.
Of interest to gardeners/homeowners is the apparently recent federal warning
that vermiculite-containing products be handled carefully. Also of interest
is the conclusion that it took Scotts more than two decades to inform
workers of the hazards of vermiculite.
At least five Scotts workers have died and dozens more have been sickened by
asbestos fibers they inhaled while handling asbestos-contaminated
vermiculite, an ore that has been used in potting soil and in fertilizers.
The company initially denied that the ore
caused any health problems but now
acknowledges the deaths and illnesses.

Scotts has urged 100 current and former workers to undergo annual chest
X-rays to monitor their lungs.
Government agencies knew about the dangers of asbestos- contaminated
vermiculite in the 1970s but did not warn miners or workers who processed
the ore until more than 20 years later.
More than 20 years after Scotts told employees it was researching
alternatives to vermiculite, the company announced in April it will stop
using the ore this year.
Federal officials say the health risks are low for gardeners who use
vermiculite, but last fall they recommended careful handling or the use of
other materials.

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