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Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a carcinogenic mineral that is not fully banned in the United States. While some states have more natural asbestos and higher rates of occupational exposure because of the prevalence of certain industries, people are at risk of exposure and developing mesothelioma throughout the nation.

Without a full asbestos ban in the U.S., Americans are at risk of developing asbestos diseases. Specifically, there are about 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Between 1999 – 2015, more than 45,000 Americans died of malignant mesothelioma, and studies show that some 20 million Americans are at risk of developing the disease in their lifetime.

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Information in Your State

There are a number of factors that can impact an individual’s risk of exposure and mesothelioma, including where they work and live. Select a state to learn more about the asbestos exposure risk, treatment options including doctors and legal options available in the area.

History of Asbestos in the U.S.

Research estimates there are at least 1.3 million workers in the United States who experience occupational exposure to asbestos each year, with thousands of other Americans at risk of exposure from natural asbestos, secondary exposure or from past uses of the toxin still lingering in old homes and buildings.

Asbestos has a long history of use around the world, including in the United States. One of the earliest recorded uses of asbestos in America occurred around 1823 in Vermont, and the mineral quickly grew in popularity. By 1890, commercial mining of chrysotile asbestos began, and in the decades to follow, asbestos became widely used in thousands of products and throughout many industries. Though the first reports of asbestos-related health risks are recorded around 1918, use of the mineral still continued heavily.

America’s use of asbestos grew exponentially, and by the 1960s and 1970s, more than 700,000 tons of the mineral were used in the country each year. By this time, the dangers related to asbestos use were well known. Due to the related health effects, such as asbestosisasbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma, use of asbestos in the United States decreased to 14,600 tons in 2000 and has continued to dwindle. Today, imported asbestos is largely utilized in the chloralkali industry, though select products with a history of asbestos use are also still allowed to contain up to 1% of the mineral. Certain industries, like construction and manufacturing plants, also continue to put workers at risk of exposure from past or continued uses of the toxin.

Regulating Asbestos Use in the U.S.

Because of the known dangers of asbestos, regulations on the federal, state and local levels have been put into place to help prevent exposure and mitigate mesothelioma risk factors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) both regulate the use and handling of asbestos to help protect workers and the general public from its health effects. Though there have been attempts at an asbestos ban in the past, certain products are still legally allowed to contain asbestos and past uses of the mineral remain in many old products, homes and buildings.

Asbestos Products Not Banned in the United States
  • Automatic transmission components
  • Brake blocks
  • Cement corrugated sheets
  • Cement flat sheets
  • Cement pipes
  • Cement shingles
  • Clothing
  • Clutch facings
  • Disk brake pads
  • Drum brake linings
  • Friction materials
  • Gaskets
  • Millboard
  • Non-roofing coatings
  • Pipeline wrap
  • Roof coatings
  • Roofing felt
  • Vinyl floor tiles

Advocates are still fighting for an asbestos ban, as a national ban is the best way to prevent exposure and lower mesothelioma incidence rates. For the time being, federal and local laws dictate how the toxin can be handled during cleanup efforts and construction.

Mesothelioma Risk by State

No amount of exposure to asbestos is safe, and until a complete ban is enacted, Americans are at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos exposure leading to mesothelioma may occur across the nation. However, research has shown that citizens living in certain regions face an elevated risk.

States with the Most Mesothelioma Diagnoses per Year

Studies have found that states where there is, or once was, a booming shipping trade or manufacturing sites tend to have more mesothelioma cases, which is the case with Maine and Washington. Between 1999 – 2015, these two states were the only in the country to experience an increase in age-adjusted mesothelioma death rate. Both states exceeded 20 mesothelioma deaths per one million citizens per year. Other states with high mesothelioma mortality rates include:

  • California, which has more mesothelioma deaths than any state in the country.
  • Pennsylvania has the second greatest number of mesothelioma deaths, which are concentrated around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
  • Florida, a state with no naturally occurring asbestos, has a higher-than-average mesothelioma death rate. More than 2,000 Floridians died from mesothelioma between 1999 – 2015.

Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma Deaths in the U.S.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,597 Americans died from mesothelioma in 2015. While past reports predicted that mesothelioma death rates would decline after 2005, the annual rate of death in 2015 was up 4.8% from rates reported in 1999. Mesothelioma incidence also increased among both sexes and all races and ethnic groups. While the cancer most commonly occurs in caucasians (94.6% of deaths between 1999 – 2015), rates also increased for persons of black, Asian and Pacific Islander race. Data from the National Cancer Institute from 1975 – 2015 has shown an incidence of about one diagnosis per every 100,000 people.

Overall, the data shows asbestos exposure is a continued problem throughout the country and the mesothelioma incidence and death rates are expected to continue increasing for years to come.

Survival Statistics for Americans with Mesothelioma

While the incidence and death rates for mesothelioma across the country remain steady or increase, mesothelioma research has led to improved survival rates for patients with better treatments and diagnostic methods.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma, the most common form of the cancer has seen a slower, more gradual increase in survival rate. In 2009 pleural mesothelioma patients were largely surviving between 9 – 17 months following diagnosis. A more recent study, found pleural mesothelioma patients achieved a median survival of 18.4 months. The same study saw peritoneal mesothelioma patients achieve a median survival of 75.7 months. More than 65% of peritoneal mesothelioma patients analyzed in the study achieved 5-year survival.

The improvements in survival are largely due to emerging and experimental treatment options available to patients, most notably hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) and cytoreductive surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma. Other treatments showing promise extending mesothelioma survival rates include immunotherapy and gene therapy. With no full ban of asbestos in sight, mesothelioma research is crucial to improve incidence and death rates in the United States.

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