The EPA has also proposed that a lung condition known as pleural thickening â¿¿ caused when asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and cause scarring â¿¿ is an indicator of asbestos exposure that can lead to more harmful lung diseases including asbestosis.

Grace scientists have said medical professionals can easily mistake similar ailments caused by being overweight for asbestos exposure.

The EPA is to make a final decision on the standard for Libby sometime next year.

Earlier this week, the agency's science advisory board reviewing the proposal requested only limited revisions after Grace asked to send it back to scientists for further study.

Agnes Kane, a member of the EPA advisory board and chair of its Libby asbestos panel, said the government and Libby can't afford to wait.

"We certainly can't sit around and wait for these types of studies to be done," Kane said. "We have to use our best scientific judgment. It is necessary to proceed with the remediation of that Superfund site."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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