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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
December 5, 2006
Catalyst for Improving the Environment
Why We Did This Review
At the request of both Montana
Senators, the Office of Inspector
General (OIG) initiated this review of
the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency's (EPA's) efforts to clean up
amphibole asbestos contamination in
Libby, Montana. We are issuing this
quick action report to bring EPA
management's immediate attention to
significant, time-critical issues we
identified during our limited review.
After 1999 media reports called
attention to Libby citizens' health
problems, EPA officials requested
that we review EPA's actions. Also
in 1999, EPA began a cleanup of
Libby asbestos contamination. In
January 2000, due to citizen
concerns, EPA started sampling and
analyzing lawn and garden products
that contained vermiculite. In
March 2001, we reported that EPA
had addressed asbestos contamination
at other sites, but failed to institute
regulations or other controls that
might have protected Libby's citizens
from the health effects of asbestos
contamination. In 2002, EPA began
an emergency response cleanup of
Libby residential and commercial
For further information, contact our
Office of Congressional and Public
Liaison at (202) 566-2391.
To view the full report,
click on the following link:
EPA Needs to Plan and Complete A Toxicity
Assessment For the Libby Asbestos Cleanup
In our limited review, we identified the following significant issues that we
believe are critical to a successful cleanup in Libby, Montana.
	EPA has not completed a toxicity assessment of amphibole asbestos
necessary to determine the safe level for human exposure; therefore,
EPA cannot be sure that the Libby cleanup sufficiently reduces the risk
that humans may become ill or, if ill already, get worse.
	EPA's public information documents Living with Vermiculite and
Asbestos in Your Home are inconsistent about safety concerns.
We recommend EPA:
	Fund and execute a comprehensive amphibole asbestos toxicity
assessment to determine (1) the effectiveness of the Libby removal
actions, and (2) whether more actions are necessary. The toxicity
assessment should include the effects of asbestos exposure on children.
The EPA Science Advisory Board1 should review the toxicity
assessment and report to the Office of the Administrator and the Libby
Community Advisory Group whether the proposed toxicity assessment
can sufficiently protect human health.
	Review and correct any statements that cannot be supported in any
documentation mailed or made available to Libby residents regarding the
safety of living with or handling asbestos until EPA confirms those facts
through a toxicity assessment.
1 Congress established the EPA Science Advisory Board in 1978, in part, to review the guidelines governing the use of scientific and
technical information in regulatory decisions.