Asbestos Exposure Hotspots

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Vermiculite sites  Civilian Shipyards  Navy Shipyards

Source: EWG Action Fund analysis of Government Death Data.

Asbestos Hot-Spots

  • It is an unfortunate fact that numerous forms of employment can place employees in hazardous conditions that may lead to exposure to Asbestos fibers - the result of which can be the development of potentially fatal medical conditions, including Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer and Asbestosis.
  • Taking into consideration the fact that many of the areas of employment where people may be (or may have been) exposed to Asbestos require high-levels of manpower, this has led to the creation of "hot-spot" areas, where higher-than-average reports of Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer and Asbestosis have been identified.
  • Such locations may include naval shipyards; civilian shipyards; and locations where Vermiculite can be found.


  • Vermiculite is a natural mineral which expands when exposed to heat.
  • The process of expansion is known as exfoliation and is achieved in commercial furnaces.
  • It is often utilized in high-temperature insulation; refractory insulation; and in the fireproofing of structural steel and pipes.
  • The largest and oldest Vermiculite mine within the U.S. began operating in the 1920s. Its location was Libby, Montana; and the vermiculite in question was sold under the name of Zonolite.
  • Both Zonolite and the mine were acquired in 1963 by the W.R. Grace Company.
  • Operations at the mine ceased in 1990, following reports of Asbestos contamination.
  • It is estimated that, while in use, the Libby mine produced approximately 80% of the world's supply of Vermiculite.
  • More than 200 people from Libby have died of asbestos-related conditions, such as Mesothelioma, making it a definitive Asbestos hot-spot.

Shipyard Hotspots

  • It has been estimated that around 100,000 people in the U.S. have either died, or will die, as a consequence of Asbestos exposure in the ship building/shipyard industry.
  • For example, in Hampton Roads (a major hub for ship-building that is located in southeast Virginia), the incidence of Mesothelioma is approximately seven times the current, national rate.
  • Literally thousands of tons of Asbestos were used in the construction of battleships during the Second World War - primarily to wrap pipes, line boilers, and to cover both engine and turbine parts.
  • More than 4 million people worked in shipyards during the Second World War.
  • For each and every 1,000 of those workers, there has been an average of fourteen deaths from Mesothelioma and an unknown figure from Asbestosis.

The Department of Health and Human Services

The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (an organization that is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services) has noted a significant number of work-places and types of employment that can (a) lead to exposure to Asbestos; and (b) result in the development of Asbestos hot-spot areas.

The Workplace:

  • Asbestos Manufacture
  • Vehicle Repair Sites
  • Construction Sites
  • Maritime Operations
  • Mining Operations
  • Offshore Rust Removal
  • Oil Refineries
  • Power-Plants
  • Railroads
  • Sand or Abrasive Manufacturers
  • Shipyards
  • Shipbuilding Yards
  • Steel-Mills

Occupations and Employment:

  • Asbestos Removal Employees
  • Demolition Employees
  • Employees of Asbestos Product Manufacturing Plants
  • Vehicle Mechanics
  • Boiler-Makers
  • Bricklayers
  • Building Inspectors
  • Carpenters
  • Dry-Wall Workers
  • Electricians
  • Floor-Covering Manufacturers and/or Installers
  • Furnace-Employees
  • Glazers Grinders
  • Hod-Carriers
  • Insulators
  • Iron-Workers
  • Laborers
  • Longshoremen
  • Maintenance-Employees
  • Merchant-Marines
  • Millwrights
  • Operating-Engineers
  • Painters
  • Plasterers
  • Plumbers
  • Roofers

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Asbestos Exposure Hotspots


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