Asbestos Exposure Risks by State
Certain states run higher risks of asbestos exposure than others. This can be due to the job sites present in that state, the naturally occurring asbestos in certain areas, as well as regulations or lack thereof set by the state, to control asbestos exposure.
You’ll find far more cases of mesothelioma in the NW and NE of the United States, as mining and processing of asbestos was incredibly prevalent in these areas for a considerable portion of the twentieth century. There are mining towns still in these parts of the country that are suffering from their past in asbestos mining, with old miners, their families, and simply those who were subject to the second-hand exposure, have developed asbestos-related illnesses in droves.
The West is another danger as it is rife with naturally occurring asbestos that affects the great states of CA, MO, WA, ID, and WY. It can be unexpected to come across natural asbestos, but it is far more common than you think and thorough research should be conducted before you travel to certain parts of these states.
Great-scale construction, manufacturing, and trade have made other parts of the U.S high risk for asbestos exposure. Places like NJ, MI, and TX, have seen some of the greatest spikes in asbestos-related illness due to these reasons. As have NY, LA, and CA, as they house the United State’s largest dockyards.
If you weren’t aware of the asbestos risks in your state or the specific regions of those states, it may be time to do a bit of research to see if you might be at risk. There are environmental factors that can be completely out of your control, as well as risks that you may not be aware of.
Asbestos Across the States
Due to its popularity as a material or material additive, nearly every state has had some risk of asbestos exposure. Whether they mined it, processed it, manufactured it, or have naturally occurring sites, every state has had some sort of history with asbestos.
To find your State’s specific regulations on asbestos exposure, you can access their websites. If you’re looking for any other information regarding asbestos laws and regulations, you may want to seek out the EPA’s website.
California has specific guidelines in place for dealing with asbestos. If it is in the home and you require repairs to the area, contact an accredited asbestos contractor to help with the removal, replacement, or repair of the area. If you have to handle the area, you need to be wearing protective gear such as a respirator, gloves, and other protective clothing to keep from inhaling the asbestos or carrying it to other members of your household.
Areas that are thought to have asbestos should be inspected regularly and samples should be taken for further analysis. If an area contains asbestos, plans should be put in place for the proper containment or removal to ensure that it does not spread to personnel. Manufacturers and construction projects should enforce the use of protective clothing and dispose of their asbestos waste properly so it does not affect the communities surrounding it.
Records should be kept of asbestos handling and manufacturing to trace exposure. Workers must undergo training courses on the correct handling and disposal of asbestos products. Inspections shall be done regularly to ensure that everything is up to code and exposure is not taking place. All businesses must comply with the standards set forth by the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants as well as general EPA standards.
All practicing businesses should also hold an up to date inspection before continuing business practice.
Emission standards are imperative as Arizona is home to natural asbestos deposits, so regulation is key. Any facility that is being renovated or worked on must be inspected for safety standards and asbestos exposure. The limits for asbestos-containing materials are no more than 260 linear feet on pipes, no more than 160 square feet on other components, and no more than 35 cubic feet on other components.
Tribal lands are also exempt from any fees that pertain to the removal of asbestos.
Naturally Occurring Asbestos
These areas were mined in the past for their asbestos deposits, putting the citizens of these areas at risk for exposure. It is easy for asbestos particles to travel and they don’t tend to just stay where they are being mined. They float easily and can travel on clothes, skin, hair, and in groundwater, so even if citizens did not mine the deposits themselves they may also find themselves at risk of exposure.
In the past, there were as many as sixty asbestos mines in the United States east. Some were larger than others and did not all operate at the same time. They also didn’t mine the same type of asbestos, as anthophyllite asbestos was mined in GA, NC, VA, MD, CT, and MA. Whereas amphibole asbestos was mined in PA and chrysotile asbestos was mined in VT.
Amphibole asbestos is needle-like and incredibly resistant, whereas chrysotile is tubular and is more susceptible to damage.
3 asbestos mines in Wyoming mined specifically chrysotile asbestos. This type was used to construct chimneys and floors in the early 1900s. Montana was far more active in its mining and Libby is considered to be an incredibly toxic source of asbestos pollution. There were nearly five hundred deaths associated with asbestos exposure and close to two thousand residents have suffered from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.
The EPA is dedicated to cleaning up asbestos pollution and attempting to rectify the issues that have plagued citizens as a result. They centered their cleanup efforts on Libby for sixteen years to stabilize the community and make it less polluted.
In the Rockies, there were five asbestos mines. One of which was centered in Idaho and operated for sixteen years in the early 1900s. It produced a large amount of asbestos that went into making construction materials like cement binders, paint, and plaster.
A true hotbed for asbestos exposure though is Washington. It was rich with chrysotile, so much so that the Sumas River is so filled with the deposits it is entirely white. They guess that this asbestos composes almost 40% of the sediment in the river.
As for California, there are many naturally occurring asbestos sites. Dirt in the parks of El Dorado County has shown large amounts of asbestos as it is situated on top of a natural asbestos deposit. They are keeping an eye on the levels as they worry that children may be affected by the asbestos kicked up in the parks.
California is also home to a thirty-one-acre hotbed of asbestos in the Clear Creek Management Area. This is concerning as it is a travel site that adventurers of all kinds tend to frequent year-round for hiking, or simply enjoying nature.
This can put travelers at risk of exposure and though there are regulations in place as much as there can be for a naturally occurring site of asbestos, it is best to simply be careful.
These are not as rich in asbestos deposits as they do not have the kind of naturally occurring sites that other states do. There are of course mining and manufacturing sites that have become a concern for residents in the central states, but it is less prevalent. There are about twenty-six natural sites, but they aren’t anything that has created the sort of widespread illnesses as you’d see in the north, east, or west.
Occupational Exposure Around the U.S.
Some states are more likely to have manufacturing and refinery sites that impose risks to workers for their high likelihood of exposure. These communities are more at-risk because these jobs are some of the best that can be found in their area. Especially with the sites being so large and in need of a lot of workers to help run them.
These jobs are typically centered around construction or industrial sites, manufacturing facilities, automotive shops, power or chemical plants, mines, refineries, and dockyards. The materials that these sites use and produce are what cause the truly problematic levels of asbestos. There are plenty of people who take up these positions because they are the best in their area.
This means they put themselves at risk every day to complete their work in conditions that may not be safe. The unfortunate thing is that asbestos-related illnesses don’t tend to show up in the body prominently until a decade or more after the exposure has begun. So workers can be unknowingly exposed for years and end up sick over a decade later.
It doesn’t matter how long the exposure was, it can cause disease regardless and utmost caution should be taken to actively work in those environments. Upwards of 13,000 Americans die of asbestos-related illnesses. Not to mention that over one million workers alone are subjected to asbestos in the workplace each year.
If asbestos is currently being processed or has been processed in your area, you are far more likely to be exposed to its remnants in your environment. Even public buildings and houses have asbestos exposure risk, depending on where they are situated or when they were made. Buildings constructed before the late 1980s may have asbestos in all parts of construction like floor and ceiling tiles, wallpapers, adhesives, insulation, and even appliances that have been built in.
Less than 70% of buildings built before 1989 in NYC were said to have asbestos contamination. Of that percentage, over 80% of those contain friable asbestos which means the asbestos is damaged and can easily travel. This has affected public schools, office buildings, and many more public buildings that children and adults frequent every day.
Due to the widespread numbers of nearly 9,000 schools in the mid-1980s containing asbestos, schools have had to work harder to reduce the exposure of asbestos to the children that frequent them. The EPA has set up guidelines on the federal and state level for all school districts to adhere to in regards to asbestos safety in school buildings. Schools must now be inspected for asbestos regularly and if they are found incompliant, there must be a management plan put in place or the removal of the asbestos materials.
Parents, teachers, and anyone who works in that district must be made aware of the asbestos exposure and kept up to date on all renovations and measures being taken to protect children and personnel.
- In Philadelphia, a teacher diagnosed with aggressive cancer due to asbestos in her school has made a plea for better regulation of asbestos materials and the removal of it from schools.
- A great number of schools with high-contamination risk are also not being regulated by their districts and states to protect personnel and students from exposure.
- It is said that these hotbeds for asbestos in schools lurk within the ceiling tiles, carpet adhesive, and even the wallpaper.
There have been reports of a large number of neighborhoods situated near asbestos sites having elevated cases of mesothelioma and related illnesses. Manufacturing and refining sites release asbestos into the air and through the groundwater, which exposes these neighborhoods to the risk of illness. Vermiculite shipments in over forty states have posed one of the highest risks of asbestos exposure as the process for refining the vermiculite releases particles into the air easily.
The sites that received these shipments were studied along with the neighborhoods around them. It was found that the rates for pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma were elevated in the neighborhoods surrounding. It is not as common in this day in age, but in the past, it was one of the greatest exposure risks.
While this has leveled out for the most part as asbestos is more regulated, poorer counties that have older houses and buildings may still be at risk for continued exposure. They have been there for years with a little update, so if they’ve been made of asbestos materials like tiles, wallpaper, certain types of cement, and adhesives. If these houses fall into disarray, the asbestos can become damaged and thus more prone to loosening and inhalation.
While a lot of these buildings have been refurbished they aren’t all cleaned up the way they should be. They have either been owned and used for years, or they lay empty and become the target for rebuilding. Either way, their exposure levels are high even if they are going to be refurbished so they should be handled with caution.
These days, the largest risk of this kind of intimate exposure is due to chlor-alkali plants. Many of these communities, however, are still dealing with the problems the past refineries, mines, and factories have made for them.
You’ll find the majority of the asbestos that is brought into the United States is used to filter chlorine, hydrogen, and caustic soda. Though there are safer alternatives nowadays, these plants in the U.S haven’t moved over to utilize those methods yet. Unlike Europe, the U.S doesn’t have a solid ban on asbestos materials as of yet so these products can still be used.
These plants in the U.S still utilize asbestos for their filtration and are one of the highest known releasers of asbestos into the environment. There have been bans on asbestos use and production, but the Chlor-alkali industry has been exempt from this ban. This industry argues that switching to the alternative is not as simple as just changing their methods and then resuming what they’ve been doing all along. It takes a lot more effort to restructure the industry standard that will cost time and money.
- Over nine million pounds of asbestos dumped into a plant landfill in Louisiana.
- Over seventy-seven thousand pounds of asbestos dumped into landfills around West Virginia.
- Over 123,000 pounds of asbestos released into landfills around Houston.
Asbestos Exposure Litigation
Asbestos lawsuits have been filed all over the United States for negligence on behalf of companies that have used and still use asbestos products in their construction, manufacturing, and more. Most of these suits have been filed in their state, but many workers also pursue litigation out of state. Some attorneys focus their practice explicitly on litigation for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.
With how prevalent asbestos was as a material, so many people have been affected by asbestos in products, the environment, or in their workplace. Occupational exposure was so common and because these illnesses take so long to develop in your system, most of these people seeking litigation were exposed decades ago.
In the early, to mid-2000s it was said that there were over 3000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed yearly. That doesn’t even account for the other types of cancer and illnesses that those exposed to asbestos are forced to contend with. Lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and so much more can all be brought about by asbestos exposure.
Several companies that have gone under in recent years due to their issues with asbestos have dedicated whatever they had left into trusts for those who seek out asbestos-related litigation. There are also nonprofits dedicated to providing funds to those who have an asbestos-related illness and cannot afford medical treatment.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and are now suffering from a related illness, you have options. Before you even think to begin seeking litigation, you might want to review your state’s regulations for asbestos and see if there are any laws in place to help you seek justice. Your workplace, home, or other public spaces may be out of code and you could pursue something with the state to argue their inspections are out of date and you could be entitled to compensation.
You may also be able to consider reaching out to a mesothelioma or asbestos lawyer to talk about your case. They may be able to help you win compensation to help with medical expenses, and other needs you might have. Depending on who is available in your state, they might deal with a lot of these cases or be able to direct you to someone who knows how to handle what you need.
There may even be nonprofits available to help you out should you have medical expenses you can’t afford. Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses and cancers can be incredibly difficult to manage alone. They are also entirely preventable and typically due to workplace negligence, environmental causes, or out of code buildings.
Asbestos Exposure Risks by State