Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure in Maine
If you have worked and lived in Maine for significant amount of time, there is a chance that you were exposed to asbestos at home or in the workplace. Prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to serious health problems including pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer. As a service to people who live in Maine, we have compiled the following information about asbestos and mesothelioma in Maine.
Below you will find recent statistics about asbestos exposure and mesothelioma in Maine. We have also included descriptions of the industries and lists of cities, towns and specific job sites in Maine where asbestos exposure has occurred. Local Maine mesothelioma doctors and treatment centers are listed and recent news articles about asbestos and mesothelioma in Maine are also provided.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Statistics in Maine
Maine has numerous natural asbestos deposits, as well as a large number of industries, that potentially exposed their workers to the toxin.
From 1999-2015, 381 Maine residents died from mesothelioma
- Maine suffers the highest mesothelioma mortality rate in the country with about 17 people per million annually (Source: CDC)
- Maine has 22 known areas of naturally occurring asbestos, predominantly found in Franklin and Somerset counties (Source: USGS)
- From 2000-2009, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Waldo and Washington counties in Maine were among the top 50 counties in the U.S. with the highest mesothelioma death rates (Source: CDC)
Asbestos Exposure in Maine Workplaces
In addition to the natural asbestos deposits in the state, Maine is home to many industries that used asbestos in the workplace.
Shipyards are notorious hubs for asbestos, as the mineral was used in almost every aspect of a ship from the boiler to the insulation. This practice put both shipyard workers and Navy veterans at a high risk of exposure. Being a coastal state, Maine was home to several shipyards, including New England Shipbuilding Corporation in South Portland and the South Dry Dock and Repair Company also located in South Portland.
Power plants built before the 1980s all have asbestos issues. The equipment was largely created with various asbestos materials to protect the machinery from heat damage and help mitigate the risk of combustion. Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant is one of several power plants in Maine known to have contained asbestos.
Manufacturing paper remains an important industry in the United States, and supplies thousands of jobs throughout the country. Paper mills contain a lot of equipment and materials that contains asbestos, like drying machines and sandpaper backing. Oxford Paper Company in Portland and Georgia Pacific Paper Mill in Woodland are only a few of many paper mills in Maine that present the risk of asbestos.
Veterans make up about 30% of all mesothelioma diagnoses because of the heavy use of asbestos in every branch. Asbestos was used in buildings on base like in the Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, as well as throughout navy vessels and other equipment veterans used.
Metal workers face extreme heat on the job, and so relied heavily on asbestos materials on the job to protect themselves. Various asbestos clothing, like gloves and jackets, would often be adorned as they worked with metal sheets, or they’d often work with asbestos directly when it’d be used as a spray on the metal products for added durability. Workers at companies like the Sanford Sheet Plant risked asbestos exposure.
Asbestos Superfund Sites and Shipyards in Maine
In addition to the natural asbestos deposits, Maine also had two shipyards and two sites included on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund List due to concerns of asbestos.
Bath Iron Works
Bath Iron Works is a large shipyard in Bath, Maine that was first established in 1884. The shipyard quickly flourished, building its first ship called the Cottage City in 1890. The shipyard built a few more vessels before a fire demolished much of the site in 1894. The owner, Tom Hyde, gathered all his employees to help rebuild. Once the site was back up and running, they focused on building a wide variety of vessels, from yachts to ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. Regardless of the type of vessel, asbestos was a go-to material in their construction because of its durability and heat resistance. Any aspect of these ships could contain asbestos, from boiler rooms to insulation, putting countless shipyard workers at risk while constructing or repairing these vessels. Over the years, the shipyard had many ups and downs, but continues to produce a variety of vessels today with a workforce in the thousands.
Brunswick Naval Air Station
The former naval station in Brunswick first opened in 1943 and was an important base throughout World War II and the Cold War. Throughout this time, the 3,100-acre base generated a variety of waste materials, from pesticides and metals to asbestos. These wastes contaminated the soil and groundwater around the area, as well. The site was included on the Superfund List in 1990 under special conditions to allow the base to continue functioning. Since its addition to the list, however, the U.S. Navy and EPA have been involved in many cleanup efforts over the years and invested millions of dollars toward investigating and cleaning the site. The station was later included on the Base Realignment and Closure list in 2005, which was a federal government initiative to increase the Department of Defense’s efficiency. The base officially closed in 2011, and the U.S. Navy continues to conduct cleanup at the site.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard located in Kittery has been an important shipyard since colonial times, launching ships for the King and later building ships for the Revolution. Eventually, the shipyard began specializing in submarines and grew in importance throughout WWII. The shipyard spans several islands, connected by acres of fill, to keep up with the growing demand. Throughout its history, the shipyard had a lot of hazardous waste stored and disposed of on site, which had runoff into the Piscataqua River. It was added to the Superfund List in 1994 after the EPA realized the extent of contamination. Long-term cleaning efforts and investigations are still ongoing today. The shipyard still functions, largely for overhauling nuclear powered submarines.
Asbestos Exposure in Maine Cities
Asbestos exposure on the job is known to have occurred in the following Maine cities. Prolonged asbestos exposure can cause the terminal cancer mesothelioma as well as other asbestos-related diseases. Click on any city below to view a complete list of commercial, military and residential job sites where asbestos exposure occurred in that city.
Asbestos Risks at Other Maine Work Sites
Workplace asbestos exposure is also a concern if one looks beyond the major cities and towns in Maine. 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.
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.)
Cooper, Mechelle. “Asbestos Removal Spurs State Action.” Kennebec Journal (ME), 6 September 2007.
Evans, David and Greg Johnstone. “Asbestos Use Companies and Locations in Maine.” All About Malignant Mesothelioma, September 2005.
Geological Research, Analyses and Services Programs. "Naturally Occurring Asbestos Locations in the Contiguous U.S. and Alaska." Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 25 May 2007.
http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/noa/usamap.pdf (accessed 23 August 2010).