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Dallas Screening Results Reveal Asbestos Diseases

Preliminary results from x-ray screenings have indicated that at least 15 people who worked or lived near a West Dallas vermiculite plant have developed symptoms of asbestos-related diseases.

Beginning in May, free x-ray screenings were offered to employees, their families and neighbors of the Texas Vermiculite Plant which operated between 1953 and 1992. Though the plant was closed and eventually demolished, the lingering effects of asbestos are being felt in the community.

Doctors at the University of Texas Health Center at Tyler have analyzed 250 of the 421 x-rays. In addition to the 15, others have shown suspicious spots that will require further examination.

The screenings were the result of a state grant following a 2005 ruling by the federal government that determined the Texas Vermiculite plant may have exposed employees and residential neighbors to asbestos.

When the asbestos screenings were initially offered, more than 500 people showed up and many had to be turned away because of funding concerns. Hospital employees saved their names and information in hopes that more funds will be allocated to cover those yet to be screened.

From a group of 25 people screened earlier this year, doctors concluded that eight of them showed signs of asbestos induced illnesses.

The plant, owned by W&R Grace Co., was located in the middle of a low-income residential area of the city which has compounded the exposure problem.