If you happen to be reading through the U.S. EPA website — which you no doubt do every day — you might come across a warning that some 35 million homes nationwide contain insulation processed with asbestos-contaminated vermiculite from infamous Libby, Mont. If you ask the agency about it, they’d be happy to send you a pamphlet — but they’re sure not going to come right out and tell you. In 2003, the EPA promised a “national consumer awareness campaign” on asbestos exposure from insulation, replete with TV and radio ads, news show appearances, posters, and brochures. Under intense opposition from the White House, it never happened. A soon-to-be-released report from the Government Accountability Office chides the EPA for its failure to identify and clean up hundreds of factories that once processed vermiculite into insulation, but makes no note of the agency’s refusal to warn homeowners. Says one concerned physician, “This is not how a public health crisis should be handled.”

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