Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure in Louisiana
If you live in the state of Louisiana and have worked there for significant amount of time, there is a chance that you were exposed to asbestos in the workplace. Prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to serious health problems including mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and other non-malignant lung impairments.
To assist people who live in Louisiana, we have provided statistics about asbestos and mesothelioma in the state. We have also included descriptions of the industries and lists of cities, towns and specific job sites in Louisiana where asbestos exposure is likely to have occurred. Treatment options and recent news about asbestos and mesothelioma in Louisiana are also provided.
Louisiana Mesothelioma and Asbestos Statistics
Anyone who lives, works, or visits Louisiana may be at risk of asbestos exposure at their workplace, in public buildings, or even in their homes.
From 1999-2015, 769 Louisiana residents died from mesothelioma
- Louisiana has a significantly above average mesothelioma death rate of about 10 people per million annually (Source: CDC)
- There are no known asbestos deposits that occur in Louisiana (Source: USGS)
- Mesothelioma incidence is high throughout Louisiana, with the highest rates occurring in the central and northern counties (Source: Journal of the American Medical Association)
Asbestos Use in Louisiana Work Environments
Located on the Gulf Coast, much of Louisiana’s culture and livelihood is rooted in the state’s proximity to the ocean and the endpoint of the country’s largest river.
Louisiana has a long history with offshore oil drilling and oil refineries, both of which have historically contained a lot of asbestos to prevent and contain any possible fires that might break out. Some of the biggest oil companies in the world have maintained facilities in Louisiana, including BP Amoco, Citgo, Shell Oil and Texaco, each of which has contributed to asbestos exposure for their employees.
As a coastal state, Louisiana is naturally a great location for the construction of shipyards, and throughout U.S. history the state has certainly seen its fair share of boat construction and repair. Perhaps one of the most notable shipbuilding companies in the state is Avondale Shipyards, which was home to multiple locations throughout Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Westwego, Algiers, and New Orleans. Other Louisiana ship manufacturers that have been known to expose their workers to asbestos include Bollinger Shipyard, Higgins Industries, and Todd Shipyard.
In 1987, a research study on cement plants in Louisiana showed elevated rates of cancer among workers in those facilities. In particular, some of these cement companies used amphibole asbestos, while others used “white” chrysotile asbestos as their primary ingredient. Most manufacturers of asbestos cement switched to the latter after 1960, but since both types of asbestos can lead to the development of mesothelioma, this switch still led to many employees being exposed to the deadly substance.
Rice has been a staple of Louisiana for at least 200 years, but sadly the production of this important crop has also led to asbestos exposure for many individuals, given the amount of the deadly material used in harvesting machines and at mills. Companies like the Abbeville Rice Mill, Acadia Vermillion Rice Irrigation, and Louisiana State Rice Milling all have verified asbestos exposure cases. Others include Crowley Rice Milling Company and Simon Rice Mill.
As in most other states, Louisiana power plants have contained lots of asbestos to insulate against the heat and electricity created by power generators. The Central Louisiana Electric Company, Southwestern Gas and Electric Company, and Louisiana Electric Co-Op are just a few of the power companies that have exposed their workers to the dangers of asbestos during their decades of operation.
Asbestos Shipyards in Louisiana
Given its premier location as a coastal state on the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana has been home to many shipyards over the centuries where shipbuilders and workers have been exposed to asbestos.
The home shipyard is located in Avondale, LA, with enormous wharves, launch ways, and even a 900-foot floating dry dock/launch platform where the company has built and repaired a variety of ocean-going vessels since it was first opened in 1938. An innovator in ship design, Avondale was one of the first companies to successfully develop a modular design technique to rival Japanese shipbuilders, and throughout the mid-20th century, the company built a broad range of both commercial and naval ships in its home facility as well as locations near Algiers, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Westwego. Unfortunately, during this period many (if not all) ships used asbestos in heavy amounts to stop shipboard fires from spreading, exposing many shipwrights and repair workers to the dangerous material.
This family-owned shipyard started with a single facility at Lockport in 1946, eventually growing to encompass eight sites across Southern Louisiana. These shipbuilding sites focus mostly on mid-size and inland boats, although it has also built some larger vessels, such as the U.S. Army Barge Derrick. While these smaller boats might contain less asbestos than larger ships, there is no safe level of exposure, and many workers who built and repaired the vessels are at a high risk of developing mesothelioma as a result. The Bollinger family also owns a number of related businesses which may have exposed workers to asbestos, including the Bollinger Electric Shop (New Orleans), Bollinger Fourchon (Port Fourchon), and Bollinger Marine Fabricators (Amelia).
The company’s biggest claim to fame is its development of the “Higgins boat,” an amphibious vessel that was used heavily on D-Day to help Allied forces land in Normandy, France. Higgins built many other naval boats, including PT boats, an airborne lifeboat, and the A-1 lifeboat, among others. The shipbuilder’s involvement in the war effort of World War II jumpstarted it from being a small producer of draft boats designed for the shallow marshes of Louisiana to becoming a major employer with more than 20,000 employees by 1943 when the U.S. ramped up its involvement in the worldwide conflict. Sadly, most of those employees were exposed to asbestos during the course of their work, as the material was heavily used in wartime ship insulation and components.
Established in 1948 and funded by the sale of J. Parker Conrad’s seafood business to General Foods, Conrad Industries’ first commission was to build nine wooden shrimp boats for the business it had just sold. While continuing to support the shrimping industry, the company soon branched out to service offshore oil operations from its location at the junction of the Atchafalaya River and the Intracoastal Waterway. Throughout the 1960s – 1980s, the company expanded rapidly to meet the growing demand in the oil industry, eventually diversifying its business after the oil bubble popped in the mid-1980s. During the corporation’s most rapid period of growth, it was responsible for the asbestos exposure of potentially hundreds of thousands of employees.
Louisiana Cities with Known Asbestos Exposure
Read more about large jobsites where asbestos exposure occurred in the major cities of Louisiana. If you or a loved one worked at any of these sites in Louisiana, you may be at risk to develop malignant mesothelioma. Click on any link below to view a complete list of work sites in that city where employees were exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos Risks at Other Louisiana Work Sites
Workplace asbestos exposure is also a concern if one looks beyond the major cities and towns in Louisiana. Select a town below to see the list of its job sites known to have exposed workers to asbestos. Asbestos exposure at any one of the job sites revealed could have placed a worker at risk to develop mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos-Related News in Louisiana
Asbestos was recently discovered in the Orleans Parish criminal courthouse, causing it to shut down while contractors remove it. Read more at Mesothelioma.com.
Author: Linda Molinari
Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer AllianceRead about Linda
Reviewer: Jennifer R. Lucarelli
Lawyer for Mesothelioma Victims and Their FamiliesRead about Jennifer
Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Terrifying True Story of How Asbestos is Killing America. (New York: Touchstone, 2003.)
Cabrera-Santiago, Manuel et al. “Prevalence of Asbestos-Related Disease Among Electrical Power Generation Workers in Puerto Rico.” Presentation at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, 2007.
Evans, David and Greg Johnstone. “Asbestos Use Companies and Locations in Louisiana.” All About Malignant Mesothelioma, September 2005.
Krstev, S. et al. “Mortality Among Shipyard Coast Guard Workers: A Retrospective Cohort Study.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 64 (October 2007): 651-8.