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Open-File Report 2012-1012

Preparation and Characterization of “Libby Amphibole” Toxicological Testing Material

By Heather A. Lowers, Stephen A. Wilson, Todd M. Hoefen, William M. Benzel, and Gregory P. Meeker

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) began work in Libby, Mont. in 1999 when an Emergency Response Team was sent to investigate local concern and media reports regarding asbestos-contaminated vermiculite. Since that time, the site has been granted Superfund status and site remediation to a safe level of asbestos has been ongoing. The amphibole asbestos from the Vermiculite Mountain vermiculite deposit near Libby, Mont. (Libby amphibole) is unusual in the sense that it is currently not classified as one of the regulated six asbestos minerals—chrysotile (a serpentine mineral) and the amphibole minerals amosite (asbestiform cummingtonite-grunerite), crocidolite (asbestiform riebeckite), asbestiform anthophyllite, asbestiform tremolite, and asbestiform actinolite. The amphiboles from the Vermiculite Mountain vermiculite deposit, primarily winchite and richterite, are related to tremolite and in the past have been referred to as sodium-rich tremolite or soda tremolite (Larsen, 1942; Boettcher, 1966; Wylie and Verkouteren, 2000; Gunter and others, 2003; Meeker and others, 2003). The public health issues in Libby, Mont. have brought to light many of the inconsistencies in the literature regarding fiber characteristics, nomenclature, and toxicology.

To better understand the toxicological characteristics of the Libby amphibole, investigators require a sufficient quantity of material representing the range of fibrous amphiboles present in the vicinity of Vermiculite Mountain to use in toxicology studies. The material collected in 2000 (Meeker and others, 2003) has been exhausted and a second collection and preparation effort, funded by the USEPA, was conducted in 2007. Both the 2000 (LA2000) and 2007 (LA2007) materials were generated to support research needs identified by the USEPA and the National Toxicology Program, and new in-vivo and in-vitro toxicology studies are underway. This Open-File Report describes the process of preparation and summarizes the chemistry and mineralogy of the LA2007 toxicological testing material.

First posted February 15, 2012

For additional information:
USGS Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Box 25046, Mail Stop 973
Denver, CO 80225

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Suggested citation:

Lowers, H.A., Wilson, S.A., Hoefen, T.M., Benzel, W.M., and Meeker, G.P., 2012, Preparation and characterization of “Libby Amphibole” toxicological testing material: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1012, 20 p.



Sample Collection

Preparation of the LA2007 Material

Chemical and Mineralogical Analyses

References Cited

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