Prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to serious health problems including pleural mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer. If you have lived and worked in South Carolina for a significant amount of time, there is a chance that you were exposed to asbestos at home or in the workplace. For your convenience, we have compiled information about asbestos and mesothelioma in the state of South Carolina.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Statistics in South Carolina
From 1999-2015, 533 South Carolina residents died from mesothelioma
The mesothelioma death rate of 7.1 per million people in South Carolina is a little below the national average (Source: CDC)
South Carolina has 8 known asbestos deposits in the state’s mountainous areas (Source: USGS)
Higher mesothelioma incidence occurs in the coastal counties of South Carolina, likely due to the state’s shipbuilding industry (Source: Journal of the American Medical Association)
02. Asbestos in Workplaces
Asbestos Use Across South Carolina Industries
The major industrial sources of asbestos exposure in South Carolina include shipbuilding and power generation – both of which cause some of the highest rates of asbestos-related disease.
Beginning in the mid-1930s, asbestos insulation was used extensively in the construction of oceangoing vessels. South Carolina was home to a number of shipyards and drydocks that used asbestos extensively, exposing workers and visitors to the carcinogenic substance. Some of the shipyards known to have asbestos exposure problems include Braswell Services Group, Carolina Shipping Company, Charleston Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, and Detyen’s Shipyards.
Power plants frequently used asbestos in a variety of parts, such as gaskets, valve seals, pumps, pipe fittings, and machinery insulation. South Carolina has quite a few power plants where employees were exposed to asbestos as part of their ongoing work, including sites like the Duke Power Company’s Oconee Nuclear Plant in Seneca, South Carolina Electric & Gas Company in Columbia, and the Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company.
South Carolina has been home to a number military bases over the years, where veterans of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces were exposed to asbestos used in many different applications, from insulation in naval ships to brake pads in land vehicles. Some of the bases known to have caused problems for both military personnel and civilians who lived or worked there include Parris Island Marine Base, Charleston Air Force Base, and the Naval Weapons Station at Goose Creek.
South Carolina is home to a number of paper mills and plants where asbestos was used heavily in the development of paper products. Some of these companies include the International Paper Company in Greenville, Southern Kraft Paper Company in Georgetown, Reigel Paper in College Spur, Bowater Paper in Rock Hill, and Carotell Paper Board Corporation in Taylors.
South Carolina’s Atlantic coastline offers a distinct advantage over many other states with respect to locations for shipyards.
Braswell Services Group
Located in Charleston, SC, the Braswell Shipyard provided many marine services related to building and repairing ships of all sizes throughout most of the 20th century, for both commercial and naval use. During this period, the company employed thousands of workers to construct the vessels, and given the large quantities of asbestos used in ships up until about the late 1970s, many of those workers were put at significant risk of developing mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers.
Carolina Shipping Company
More involved in commercial shipping than shipbuilding services, the Carolina Shipping Company provided both docking and transport services while also maintaining its own small fleet of cargo ships. Although the exposure to asbestos might have been less than that of shipbuilders who worked with the material directly, dock workers like those at the Carolina Shipping Company would likely have encountered airborne asbestos in any damaged ships where insulation or other materials could have exposed to the open air.
Charleston Naval Shipyard
Located about five miles north of Charleston, SC, the Charleston Naval Shipyard provided support and repair facilities for a wide variety of ships, from submarines to destroyers. During World War I, the shipyard employed thousands of people to help construct ships for the worldwide conflict, and by the time World War II came around, the shipyard was expanded again, with a peak of nearly 26,000 shipbuilders, stevedores, administrative personnel, and other workers all involved in the operation. All of these individuals were put at a high risk of developing mesothelioma due to the nearly daily contact with asbestos used in ships of the time period.
Founded in 1962 by William Detyen, Detyen’s Shipyards, Inc. is situated on the Wando River in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Associated with the Charleston Navy Yard, Detyen’s helped to build and mend hundreds of ships throughout the two World Wars as well as later conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. During that period, the shipyard exposed many shipbuilders and other workers to the tons of asbestos that were added to boats to prevent and contain fires while on the ocean. Detyen’s is still in operation today, with several hundred employees consistently working on boats from navies around the world.
04. Exposure in Cities
South Carolina Cities with Asbestos Problems
Asbestos exposure on the job is known to have occurred in the following South Carolina 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 exposure is also a problem if you look beyond the major cities and towns in South Carolina. Select a town to see the list of its job sites where asbestos exposure occurred. Asbestos exposure at any one of the work sites revealed could put a worker at risk to develop mesothelioma cancer.
South Carolina Directory of Asbestos Work Sites
Select a city to see a list of work sites where asbestos exposure occurred.