Libby asbestos clinic contributes research to two journals

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Dr. Brad Black of Libby’s Center for Asbestos Related Disease. (Courtesy photo)

By JOHN BLODGETT

The Western News

Libby’s Center for Asbestos Related Disease, or CARD Clinic, on Dec. 20 announced its contribution to the recent publication of research in two peer-reviewed scientific journals.

One study, titled “A Clinical Assessment and Lung Tissue Burden From an Individual Who Worked as a Libby Vermiculite Miner,” was accepted Aug. 23 by Inhalation Toxicology, a journal of the International Forum for Respiratory Research. It was published online Oct. 17.

“This article is groundbreaking,” states the CARD Clinic’s Dr. Brad Black in a news release, “because it shows that the fibers that are most likely causing this lung disease are not regulated asbestos.”

Black and his CARD Clinic colleague Dr. Gregory Loewen were among the study’s authors, the clinic’s Administrative and Research Director Tracy McNew said via email.

According to an abstract posted on the journal’s website, the study involves “the clinical assessments of an individual who worked at the mine from 1969 to 1990 … (who) had no other known occupational exposures to fibrous materials” and “developed … ‘asbestos-like’ pathological features and eventually an adenocarcinoma.”

“This is to our knowledge the first time such an extensive evaluation has been conducted in a vermiculite miner from Libby, Montana,” the abstract concludes.

The other study, “Libby Amphibole Disease: Pulmonary Function and CT Abnormalities in Vermiculite Miners,” was accepted by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine on Dec. 1.

“This article describes radiologic and pulmonary function findings among miners exposed to Libby amphibole,” states an abstract posted to the journal’s website that notes the study comprised 256 miners.

McNew said she and Black are among this study’s authors.

“The article describes a unique type of scarring on the outside lining of lungs noted in a large proportion of the vermiculite miners studied,” states the CARD Clinic news release. “In addition, this abnormality was associated with declined lung function.”

The study is important, Black states in the news release, “because most doctors probably don’t know about this unique type of asbestos related disease and wouldn’t be able to recognize it in their patients if they didn’t hear about it.”

According to research collaborator Dr. Raja Flores, a thoracic surgeon at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, the research might have implications for people whose health was affected by 9/11.

“A significant amount of Libby Amphibole was present in the World Trade Center Towers,” Flores states in the CARD Clinic news release. “We expect to see similar patterns of chest disease and will be in a more knowledgeable position to diagnose and treat it.”

McNew said that in addition to her, Black and Loewen, “numerous other employees” at the CARD Clinic contributed to the research by compiling data, drawing blood and scheduling patients, among other duties.

“It’s definitely a group effort,” she wrote.

Black has been an author on at least 18 other peer-reviewed scientific articles, the news release states.

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