People in Libby, Montana are More at Risk of Severe Symptoms When Contracting COVID-19

People in Libby, Montana are More at Risk of Severe Symptoms When Contracting COVID-19

People in Libby, Montana are having a harder time with the COVID-19 pandemic compared to other parts of the country because they are also dealing with asbestos related diseases like asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. People with these illnesses are more likely to have severe symptoms of the virus and are more likely to die from it. The county that contains Libby has one of the highest asbestos mortality rates and about one in ten people in the area has an asbestos related illness, which is very high compared to the rest of the country.

Early on in Lincoln County, the virus was contained due to diligent testing, tracking, and prevention, but now cases have risen in the area. People in Libby were already suffering because of asbestos, but they are now suffering from the global pandemic. Before 1990, asbestos was released from the contaminated W.R. Grace vermiculite mine, leading to people all over town breathing in the carcinogen. In 2002 the Environmental Protection Agency made Libby a Superfund site. The EPA had to spend $600 million to clean 2,600 properties and homes and remove 1 million cubic yards of asbestos contaminated soil.

The asbestos disease diagnoses are going to continue since it can take a long time for them to pop up. It can take 30 years or more to develop an asbestos related disease after being exposed. The area around the mine is heavily contaminated with asbestos, so people going into the area to log, fight fires, or just explore could be endangering their lives. People in the county are in such poor health they are required to wear masks to protect themselves in all public areas, even though other areas around the state don’t have strict regulations.

It has taken a long time to clean up Libby, Montana. The vermiculite mine was contaminated with asbestos and W.R. Grace knew this, so the company knowingly poisoned nearby residents. Day after day, tremolite asbestos was sent into the air while ore from the mine was donated to different locations to make running tracks, an ice rink, and baseball fields. Many people were unknowingly exposed to asbestos daily.

If you were exposed to asbestos and now have mesothelioma or lung cancer, you could be entitled to compensation. Call us at 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form to speak to a member of our staff. Our attorneys will do anything they can to get you the compensation you deserve.

“COVID-19 Stalks A Montana Town Already Grappling With Asbestos Disease” NPR (October 11, 2020). [Link]

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