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Ethics and Environmental Health

Many Voices, Many Visions: A Community Response to Asbestos

It may not seem like a difficult task to galvanize a community toward a shared vision when the community is dealing with something as devastating as asbestos contamination. But people make sense of their lives in very different ways. The angle of vision is everything. In Libby, some people are angry with a company and with the government whom they blame for their disease. Others talk about their worries, fears, and the uncertainty of potential diagnoses. But there are also community members who question the severity of the asbestos contamintion and they emphasize the need to move forward and create a new community. Thus finding a way to share a vision is a very complicated process. The following is a list of various community initiatives, some of which were coordinated or supported by the Libby E-ABCs project during its funding cycle:

The following is a list of various community initiatives, some of which were coordinated or supported by the Libby E-ABCs project during its funding cycle. Many of these initiatives and activities are discussed in more detail in the manual, Ethics: A Bridge for Communities and Scientists: A manual for community education.

Health related activities and services

  • Asbestos Related Disease Network  (ARDnet). This group is comprised of representatives from healthcare groups and agencies that play a part in solving asbestos related healthcare issues in Libby. The original purpose was to discuss available services, avoid duplication of services, and communicate events in the community.
  • Asbestos Related Disease Annual Health Fair. Local healthcare providers participate in this annual event and community members are invited to attend presentations on current healthcare initiatives and services.
  • Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD).  The center provides clinic services to people who need diagnosis and coordination of care for any asbestos related diseases resulting from exposure to asbestos in and around Libby, Montana
  • CARD Outreach for Recovery Assistance (CORA). This service was created to develop working models and training materials for other communities to use when responding to the psychosocial impacts of long-term technological disasters. CORA offers specific services that address the impacts of chronic stress, ongoing uncertainties, grieving, and financial crisis on individuals and families.
  • Montana Asbestos Screening and Surveillance Activity (MASSA). Through this federal-state partnership, the State of Montana offered periodic screenings for individuals exposed to asbestos from the Libby mines. This service is now provided by the CARD clinic.

Federal Agencies

  • Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA). This federal agency leads the nation's environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts. This agency develops and enforces regulations, offers financial assistance, performs environmental research, sponsors voluntary partnerships and programs, and furthers environmental education.
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). This federal agency is charged with assessing health hazards at specific hazardous waste sites. Their goal is to help prevent or reduce exposure and the illnesses that result and increase knowledge and understanding of the health effects that may result from exposure to hazardous substances.
  • National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). This federal agency strives to reduce the burden of illness by supporting research in environmental health.  

Community Outreach

  • Art Exhibits The art exhibit was part of two-month community education and outreach effort entitled: The Landscape of Asbestos: Libby and Beyond.
  • Asbestos Symposium The symposium of national, regional, and local speakers was part of the Landscapes of Asbestos: Libby and Beyond.
  • Books and Documentaries. Information on this webpage provides titles of books and documentaries that explore the asbestos contamination in Libby.
  • Community Advisory Group (CAG). This group was created by the EPA to allow citizens to voice their concerns about asbestos related disease and health issues in a structured meeting format. The meetings serve as a way for the EPA to inform the public and answer questions regarding clean up progress. Summaries of CAG meetings through 2007 are provided via this link.
  • Community Asbestos Memorial Project. This collaborative effort was undertaken to create a lasting memorial to those who suffered and died from asbestos related diseases. The article in the Western News describes it more fully.
  • Lincoln County Public Library. The library in Libby has set aside an area dedicated to asbestos research and education.
  • Libby Quilting Guild Two local quilting groups in Libby worked on a memorial quilt.
  • The University of Montana Presidential Lecture Series. April 5, 2004.
    "The International Struggle Over Asbestos" Presidential Lecture: Barry Castleman, University Theater

Education

  • Lesson Plans for Teachers These plans were developed for use in the classroom setting to help teachers design interactive and age-appropriate activities for students.
  • Libby High School Documentary Film Project
  • The University of Montana Computer Donation Program for Lincoln County Public Library, Museum, Senior Center and other sites.

Photos courtesy of Dudley Dana, Dana Gallery