Marysville, Ohio Asbestos Exposure

The former O.M. Scott and Sons Company is the subject of a recent evaluation of potential sites exposing the public to asbestos. The evaluation was conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and other federal, state, and local environmental and public health agencies. Asbestos is an organic mineral, comprised of six different fibers, which was used in abundance throughout the twentieth century. Its use was banned in the early 1980s because of overwhelming reports of the adverse health effects associated with asbestos. Such health effects include development of numerous cancers, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.

The vermiculite in Libby, Montana is one of the most highly publicized and devastating examples of asbestos contamination. The vermiculite mines operated between 1920 and 1990, and shipped its products throughout the country and the world though they were contaminated with the most deadly form of asbestos fibers. Asbestos exposure attorneys remind the American public that there are more than 200 sites being reviewed for possible Libby vermiculite contamination, all of which pose a potentially significant threat to public health.

The Marysville site was an exfoliation facility that processed more than 430,000 tons of vermiculite ore from Libby mine during the years 1967-1980. Exfoliation, a processing method in which ore is heated and “popped,” is expected to have released more asbestos than other processing methods.

Exfoliation operations at this facility occurred from 1967 until the spring of 2001, when the company phased-out vermiculite from its products. This facility was the single largest consumer of vermiculite ore from the Libby mines in the United States, according to EPA records. In 1980, the facility switched from using Libby ore to using ore from Africa, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Waste rock from the exfoliation process was either buried in an on-site landfill or sent to an off-site landfill. According to 1990 census data, 58 housing units, populated by 185 people, are within 1 mile of the facility. About 60% of the houses within 1 mile of the site were built before 1980, when processing of Libby vermiculite stopped.

Vermiculite that was mined in Libby, Montana, contains amphibole asbestos; it has been suggested that amphibole asbestos is more toxic than chrysotile asbestos, mainly because physical differences allow chrysotile to break down and to be cleared from the lung, whereas amphibole is not removed and builds up to high levels in lung tissue.

This site investigation of the Scotts Company in Marysville, Ohio, is part of a national effort to identify and evaluate potential asbestos exposures that may be expected at other sites that processed Libby ore.

Scotts Company began sampling indoor air for worker exposure to asbestos in 1972, and began performing chest x-rays of workers in 1976. OSHA conducted an industrial hygiene survey at Scotts in 1978 because of reports of asbestos-related diseases in the company’s workers. In addition, unpublished information from W.R. Grace records indicate that former workers were exposed to significant levels of Libby asbestos in air at the Scotts facility. An OSHA industrial hygiene survey conducted in late 1978 to early 1979 documents that dusty conditions were still a problem, especially during cleaning operations.

In addition to air sampling data, health outcome data are available that strengthen ATSDR’s conclusion that occupational exposure at Scotts in the past was a public health hazard. In 1976, x-rays of two employees indicated signs of asbestosis. In 1978, Scotts reported four cases of bloody pleural effusion in the lungs of Scotts workers. That led to an investigation by the company and federal agencies to examine occupational exposure to asbestos in more detail. A preliminary review of worker x-rays in 1979 observed that:

• 32 of 125 worker x-rays showed pleural and/or interstitial abnormalities;

• the prevalence of pleural and/or interstitial abnormalities were approximately twice as high for workers in the exfoliating department compared to the maintenance and packaging departments;

• the proportion of pleural and/or interstitial abnormalities increased with length of employment in all departments.

Household contacts of former workers may have been exposed to Libby asbestos. Former workers may have transported Libby asbestos home from work on their clothing or hair and thus exposed household members.

If you or a loved one developed an asbestos-related disease from Scotts Company activities, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a skilled asbestos exposure attorney at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm immediately for a free evaluation.