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Asbestos Contamination Prompts Health Emergency in Montana Town

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A public health emergency has been declared in a Montana town where more than 200 deaths and thousands of illnesses have been linked to asbestos contamination, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

The agency will spend more than $130 million in Libby, Mont., to conduct an extensive, home-by-home cleanup and to provide medical care for people with asbestos-related illnesses. However, the town's 2,600 residents won't be evacuated, the Associated Press reported.

The asbestos contamination is from a vermiculite mine that closed in 1990. Before the closure, mine workers carried asbestos home on their clothes. Previously, some residents in Libby used vermiculite as mulch in their home gardens, and vermiculite covered school running tracks in the town, the news service reported.

The federal government and Maryland-based W.R. Grace & Co. have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up Libby, the AP reported.

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