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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
March 20, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Gretchen Michael
609-984-7160


 
Medical Testing will be offered to Workers and Families Exposed to Asbestos


 

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) will begin testing former workers and their household contacts who might be at risk from past asbestos exposure from the Zonolite/W.R. Grace site in Hamilton (Mercer County), the Department of Health and Senior Services announced today. 

 

The Hamilton site is the first pilot site selected to participate in the ATSDR’s National Asbestos Health Program. 

 

The former plant received vermiculite from a mine in Libby, Montana from 1948 to 1991. Vermiculite from Libby was found to contain asbestos. Exposure to asbestos may lead to respiratory illnesses and other diseases.  Workers may have been exposed to asbestos anywhere in and around the plant between 1948 and the early 1990s.  The workers’ household contacts could have been exposed to asbestos also if workers brought home asbestos fibers on their clothes, shoes and bodies.

 

Former plant workers and the household contacts who lived with them during their employment at the Zonolite/W.R. Grace site will be given free medical tests to identify changes in the lungs and lung lining that might be the result of asbestos exposure.

 

Testing will begin later this year. Former Zonolite/W.R. Grace workers and their household contacts who have not been in contact with the NJDHSS can call the Hazardous Site Health Evaluation Program at (609) 584-5367 to be certain that they will be included in the study.  The NJDHSS and ATSDR will meet with former workers and their household contacts in early summer to discuss the plans for the medical evaluation and answer any questions they may have.

 

The NJDHSS and ATSDR released two health consultations on the Zonolite/W.R. Grace site in Hamilton Township in March 2005.  They concluded that former workers and their household contacts were exposed to hazardous levels of Libby asbestos, and recommended a health study or screening focusing on asbestos-related disease.

 

Established by Congress in 1980 under the Superfund law, ATSDR conducts public health assessments at each of the sites on the EPA National Priorities List, as well as other sites when petitioned

 
 
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