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Do You Live in One of the Top 5 States for Asbestos Caused Deaths?

Posted in: Articles February 24, 2017 By Stan Gottfredson Read by 522 Users

Asbestos exposure is undoubtedly a nationwide issue, having been responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the past decades and continuing to mercilessly claim the lives of over 12,000 Americans every year. The majority of asbestos victims were exposed to these toxic minerals in the workplace before the 1980s. Shortly after the devastating health effects of asbestos were formally recognized by multiple government agencies, the popularity of asbestos as a raw material has started to decline dramatically.

However, despite the carcinogen having been used all across the U.S. by various industries, the situation is considerably more severe for certain states which employed asbestos to a greater extent during the last century. The following five states have registered an astounding number of asbestos-related deaths between 1999 and 2013.

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5. Ohio

The manufacturing of rubber, plastic and metal products requires a tremendous amount of insulation, as the machinery is very prone to overheating. Because of its remarkable resistance to high temperatures and excellent fireproofing properties, asbestos has been widely used to insulate equipment, various rooms of factories, as well as the protective clothing worn by laborers. As the leading producer of rubber, plastic and metal items, it is probably not surprising that Ohio has exposed residents to considerable levels of asbestos throughout the years. Between 1999 and 2013, asbestos exposure has been accountable for the death of 9,960 people in Ohio. Employees who worked in the following industries are very likely to develop an asbestos-related disease:

  • steel industry
  • automotive industry
  • the petroleum refining industry
  • chemical industry
  • the electric power industry
  • vermiculite manufacturing

4. Texas

Texas is the largest manufacturer of petroleum products and the Lone Star State is also home to multiple workplaces associated with a high risk of asbestos exposure, such as shipyards, power plants, steel mills, oil refineries, automobile factories and chemical plants. As numerous processes and operations conducted by these industries entail a great risk of fire, solid insulation was crucial and thereby, asbestos has represented a very convenient and low-cost choice for decades.

Additionally, Texas received 675,000 tons of raw asbestos from Libby, Montana. The minerals were subsequently transported to cities such as Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston. Due to the enormous prevalence of asbestos in occupational settings, 11,905 residents lost their lives to lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma, and asbestosis between 1999 and 2013.

3. Pennsylvania

The Keystone State is also home to numerous power plants, steel mills and oil refineries, which are notorious for having employed incredible amounts of asbestos throughout the past century. Moreover, Pennsylvania has a long history of asbestos mining, with four amphibole mines – which are no longer in use – located in the southeastern region of the state. Nearly 425,000 tons of asbestos-tainted vermiculite has been brought to several cities, including Philadelphia, New Castle and Lancaster, from Libby, Montana as well.

Within the steel industry, asbestos served as insulation for a wide range of machinery and equipment, such as boilers, ovens, steam pipes, gaskets, and ladles. The most dangerous jobs in regards to asbestos exposure were:

  • millwright
  • welder
  • furnace operator
  • tender
  • pourer

According to EWG Action Fund, 14,216 Pennsylvania residents lost their lives to asbestos exposure between 1999 and 2013. Moreover, while the nationwide average death rate is 4.9, the state has a shocking death rate of 7.5.

2. Florida

In addition to the shipbuilding industry, which has flourished by virtue of the state’s geographical location, and the large number of power plants, marine repair facilities, and chemical companies, five asbestos processing plants have also operated in Florida. The Sunshine State bought over 100,000 tons of raw asbestos from Libby, Montana, which was subsequently shipped to multiple cities such as Jacksonville and Tampa, while the carcinogenic minerals have surprisingly been involved in the sugar processing industry as well.

Power plants are extremely susceptible to fire and for this reason, asbestos has been used to fireproof various components of the machinery, as well as numerous rooms of the buildings. Similarly, the shipbuilding industry employed colossal amounts of asbestos, preponderantly for insulating engine rooms, boilers, fire rooms and sleeping quarters. Because asbestos was a very popular building material until the 1980s, Floridians might also be exposed to these hazardous minerals in their homes. There is a high risk of exposure for residents who inhabit old buildings since asbestos-containing products become more and more friable over time. Thus, fibers can easily be released into the air and subsequently inhaled or swallowed.

Florida is the second leading state when it comes to asbestos-related deaths. Exposure to these toxic minerals has claimed the lives of 14,248 people between 1999 and 2013 and many others continue to be diagnosed with devastating diseases annually.

1. California

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral in California and the state has some of the largest deposits of minerals in the world. Nevertheless, occupational exposure is accountable for the majority of asbestos-related deaths, as the carcinogen has been carelessly employed by numerous power generation plants, oil refineries, shipbuilding companies, mining sites and marine repair facilities. Consequently, due to the terrible damages asbestos has caused over the years, multiple regions of the state were declared Superfund sites by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including 18 Armed Forces bases.

Between 1950 and 1977, the former California Zonolite/W.R. Grace & Company site processed over 120,000 tons of vermiculite contaminated with asbestos, which had been imported from Libby, Montana. It was revealed that the minerals contained up to 7% asbestos. The site’s activity did not only result in 1,750 residents who lived in adjacent areas having been in regular contact with significant levels of asbestos, but also in the exposure of nearly 150 employees.

San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose are the cities with the highest number of deaths caused by asbestos. 21,338 California residents died of diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis between 1999 and 2013. The shipbuilding industry is very developed in California due to the state’s location. Some of the shipyards which are known for having exposed workers to high levels of asbestos include:

  • California Naval Shipyard
  • Hunters Point Naval Shipyard
  • Long Beach Naval Shipyard
  • Mare Island Naval Shipyard

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