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.