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Government Fails To Warn Of Asbestos-Tainted Holiday Decorations

Government Fails To Warn Of Asbestos-Tainted Holiday Decorations

An AOL News Special Report explains that homeowners climbing into attics to pull down decorations this year might be bringing down something else down as well. Unfortunately, it’s not holiday cheer and the government has done little to warn Americans.

Andrew Schneider of AOL News explains that in addition to “those colorful lights and ornaments could come invisible and deadly asbestos fibers that decades from now may destroy or end the lives of some of the celebrants.”  

Schneider’s special report indicates “the government has known that the attics and walls of as many as 35 million homes and businesses are insulated with Zonolite, which contains lethal asbestos-tainted vermiculite,” yet the Environmental Protection Agency has continually failed to address these concerns.

The news report explains that “When asked what they’ve done to alert the public, EPA officials repeatedly point to the vermiculite page on the agency’s website, which even many inside the agency say is inadequate.” Schneider goes on to write “AOL News has documented that the government has steadfastly refused even to issue widespread warnings to the public about the dangers of a product that became a popular insulation in the 1940s and continued to be installed in U.S. homes through the 1990s.”

Furthermore, the company also responsible for producing the “vermiculite ore used in the insulation” refuses to acknowledge the dangers of this product, the article asserts, even after over “400 deaths have been attributed to exposure to vermiculite in the community in which it was mined.” W. R. Grace & Co., the producer of that ore, continues to claim the insulation their material went into “is safe and presents no health risk to homeowners,” according to AOL.

Schneider reports that while the threat of exposure to this asbestos-containing material exists all year, “the potential for exposure to the asbestos is greatest during the holidays,” Dr. Aubrey Miller explains. He was medical director of the EPA team sent to the town where the Grace mine existed to “investigate reports of hundreds of deaths and illnesses” associated with the toxic material. 

The medical expert states that “holidays almost always necessitate climbing the attic stairs.” He explains in the AOL news article that “decorations, coils of lights, artificial wreaths and trees may have become the resting place for asbestos-laden dust over the years.” However, the expert indicates the danger to young children is most disturbing, based on both their increased likelihood of exposure and their “higher breathing rates” that will cause them to “inhale more of the fibers.”

Miller asserts that “Children, especially young ones, tend to spend much of their time on the floor playing with the ornaments and toys, breathing the asbestos-contaminated dust, and have many years for the asbestos fibers that lodge in their lungs to eventually cause disease," the Special Report explains.

According to the AOL article, “more than 750 plants and factories throughout North America” received this material from the Grace mines to manufacture their products.  After the government analyzed papers and invoices from Grace, the article reports that “15.6 billion pounds” of this lethal ore was shipped by the company. Because the government’s response to this dangerous material has been so weak and many Americans remain unaware of this danger, it rests with homeowners to ensure the safety of their family this holiday season while protecting them against what might be lurking in their attics and contaminating their trees, wreaths and stockings.  

If you or a loved one has experienced a serious side effect or symptoms of side effects related to asbestos exposure, contact Newsome Law Firm and fill out a case evaluation form today. Our team of attorneys has experience specific to complications associated with asbestos and mesothelioma. Not only can they give you the legal guidance you need, they can help you get the compensation you deserve.


Schneider, Andrew. (November 29, 2010) “Government Refuses to Act on Cancer-Causing Insulation.” Retrieved on December 1, 2010 from AOL News.

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