Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure in Washington
If you live in the state of Washington 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 Washington, we have provided statistics about asbestos and mesothelioma in Washington. We have also included descriptions of the industries and lists of cities, towns and specific job sites in Washington where asbestos exposure is likely to have occurred. Treatment options and recent news about asbestos and mesothelioma in Washington are also provided.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Statistics in Washington
From 1999-2015, 1,338 Washington residents died from mesothelioma
- Washington’s mesothelioma death rate of 12.2 per million people is much higher than the national average (Source: CDC)
- Washington has 34 known asbestos deposits and mines (Source: USGS)
- Kitsap and Mason Counties have the highest mesothelioma mortality rates in the state, with the northeastern counties of Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille also having high death rates from the cancer (Source: Journal of the American Medical Association)
Asbestos Exposure in Washington Workplaces
Together, the mining and maritime industries have made residents and visitors of the State of Washington particularly vulnerable to asbestos exposure.
Washington State's Cascade, Okanogan, and Rocky Mountain ranges have an abundance of serpentine rock, which is the source of 95% of all commercial asbestos. In addition to five major asbestos mines in the northern part of the state, several serpentine deposits are located in the center of the state in the vicinity of Ellensburg and Wenatchee.
The Northwest Pacific Coast is a major commercial shipping center, with ports in Puget Sound and other areas along the coastline. As a result, cities like Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver, WA, all have major shipyards with a history of exposing shipbuilders and dock workers to asbestos, given the large amounts of the material that have been used in ocean-going vessels in the past. A few of the shipyards located in Washington include Talbott Shipyard, Kaiser Shipyard, and Voyage Repair Station.
For decades, the timber industry has been at the heart of Washington State’s economy, including paper and paper products. Asbestos-containing materials are still to be found in the state’s many paper and pulp mills, where they were used in the machinery and materials used in the paper-making process itself, such as drying felts and the adhesives used to affix them. A few of the timber and paper companies operating in Washington include Scott Paper Company, Anderson Middleton Lumber Company, E. K. Wood Lumber Company, and Weyerhauser Timber Company.
Washington State is the first U.S. port of call for tankers from Alaska and home to numerous oil refineries. As petroleum is a hazardous substance at all stages of production, asbestos materials were used almost everywhere from fire doors to the asbestos-lined overcoats, hoods, and gloves. Some of the major petroleum players to expose employees and others to asbestos in Washington include BP Oil, Chevron Chemical, Shell Oil, Texaco, and Mobil.
Several asbestos lawsuits have been filed in Washington by former employees of the state’s several aluminum plants. Aluminum production has been an important industry since World War II, and because the manufacturing process requires high levels of heat, asbestos was often used to protect workers and machinery from damage by fire. ALCOA Aluminum smelters in Vancouver and Wenatchee are notorious for their asbestos exposure, but other companies have had problems as well, including Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, INTALCO Aluminum, Harvey Aluminum, and Columbia Aluminum.
Washington Asbestos Shipyards
Washington has a strong shipping industry, and the use of asbestos in ships of all sizes has led to the risk for developing mesothelioma in many former shipbuilders.
Bremerton Naval Shipyard
Initially built as a repair site, the Bremerton Naval Shipyard also began building naval ships during World War I. During the Second World War, it helped to repair some of the still-floating vessels damaged at Pearl Harbor, while also helping to replenish the Pacific Fleet decimated during the same attack. In more recent years, the shipyard is involved more in dismantling decommissioned ships (primarily nuclear-powered vessels) and maintaining the U.S. Navy’s “mothball fleet” of inactive ships held in reserve. Through all of the repair and restoration work done over the years, many veterans and civilian workers have been exposed to dangerous amounts of asbestos.
This Seattle shipyard sprang into operation in 1939 with a focus on commercial ships of all sizes, including everything from tugboats to barges. Although a relatively small operation with only a couple hundred workers at its peak, workers at Duwamish Shipyard saw their fair share of asbestos in their construction, repair, and dismantling work. Workers like those at the shipyard are at a much greater risk of developing mesothelioma than the average individual, and some of those workers from Duwamish have gone on to file mesothelioma lawsuits because of that exposure.
Located at the southern border of Washington State in Vancouver, WA, this shipyard was built by Henry Kaiser in direct response to the entrance of the United States into World War II. Combined with his shipyards in other Pacific Coast states, Kaiser was responsible for the construction of more than 1,500 ships for the war effort. Many of the men and women who built those ships, however, were exposed to deadly levels of asbestos, and some of them later were diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Washington Cities with Asbestos Problems
Provided below is a list of cities in the state of Washington where asbestos use in the workplace is known to have occurred. Click on a city below to see more detailed information about the specific job sites where asbestos exposure occurred.
Asbestos Risks at Smaller Washington Job Sites
Workplace asbestos exposure is also a concern if one looks beyond the major cities and towns in Washington. 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 Washington
A new bill is expected to pass soon to make it easier for workers exposed at the Hanford Site to qualify for workers’ compensation. Learn more about it at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.
A1 Asbestos LLC is being accused of falsifying disposal documents to an Okanogan County landfill and offering false statements to state department officials.
Author: Linda Molinari
Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer AllianceRead about Linda
Reviewer: Jennifer R. Lucarelli
Lawyer for Mesothelioma Victims and Their FamiliesRead about Jennifer
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.
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).
Krstev, S. et al. “Mortality Among Shipyard Coast Guard Workers: A Retrospective Cohort Study.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 64 (October 2007): 651-8.