Asbestos-related pleural disease due to tremolite associated with progressive loss of lung function: serial observations in 123 miners, family members, and residents of Libby, Montana

Am J Ind Med. 2004 Sep;46(3):219-25. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20053.


Background: The community of Libby, Montana has recently been the focus of national attention secondary to widespread amphibole contamination associated with vermiculite mining and processing.

Methods: Patients who had occupational and non-occupational exposure to amphibole asbestos in Libby, Montana were evaluated for progressive loss of pulmonary function.

Results: Of the 123 patients evaluated, 94 demonstrated average age-corrected accelerated loss per year of vital capacity at 3.2%, total lung capacity (TLC) 2.3%, and DLCO 3.3%. All patients all had predominantly pleural changes with minimal to no interstitial disease.

Conclusions: The study demonstrates a progressive loss of pulmonary function in patients exposed to tremolite asbestos.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asbestos, Amphibole / toxicity*
  • Asbestosis / etiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mining*
  • Montana / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pleural Diseases / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Factors


  • Asbestos, Amphibole
  • tremolite