Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure in West Virginia
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 West Virginia for 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.
Below you will find recent statistics about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure in West Virginia. We have also included descriptions of industries, occupations and lists of cities, towns and specific job sites in West Virginia where asbestos exposure has occurred. Local West Virginia mesothelioma doctors and treatment centers are also listed. Finally, we present recent local news articles about asbestos and mesothelioma.
West Virginia Mesothelioma and Asbestos Statistics
From 1999-2015, 432 West Virginia residents died from mesothelioma
- West Virginia has a higher than average mesothelioma mortality rate of approximately 14 people per million annually (Source: CDC)
- West Virginia does not have any known occurrences of asbestos (Source: USGS)
- Hancock and Wood counties were ranked among the top 50 counties with the highest mesothelioma mortality rates from 2000 – 2009, with rates of about 39 and 25 people per million, respectively (Source: CDC)
Asbestos Use in West Virginia Work Environments
The lack of natural asbestos in West Virginia hasn’t prevented residents from being exposed. Many businesses throughout the state used asbestos in some way in their facilities, potentially exposing workers on the job.
Coal mining continues to be an important aspect of West Virginia’s economy today and employees an estimated 12,000 workers. Though the state does not have any noted asbestos prospects, miners may still face asbestos-contaminated coal. Equipment for mining has also been found to contain asbestos, including in welding blankets and transit panels. Consolidation Coal Company in Fairmont and Ben Franklin Coal Company in Moundsville are just a few of the coal mining companies in the state where workers were exposed to asbestos.
Fort Martin Power Plant in Morgantown and Albright Power Station are among hundreds of power plants across the country that utilized asbestos in their facilities. Whether the mineral is found in the building’s walls or used in the equipment, power plants often sought the material because it could help prevent fires or possible combustion. Some workers may have even worn asbestos clothing that contained asbestos.
Centurial Products and Fourco Glass, both located in Clarksburg, were part of the manufacturing center in the city. Clarksburg became a huge industrial and manufacturing center in the 20th century, especially in the production of glass. Unfortunately, while these businesses were pumping out products, they were also exposing their workers to asbestos. Machinery would often contain some asbestos products, and asbestos could likely be found in the structures themselves as well.
Though the oil industry never became a huge economic boost for West Virginia, refineries still opened up in various cities. Ergon, a well-known company in the petroleum industry, opened one location in West Virginia, as well. Because of the reactivity and high heats used in the processing of oil, asbestos became a wonder mineral for this industry. Asbestos was a clear solution to protect the plants from risk of fire, and also protect the expensive equipment inside. Employees paid the ultimate price of such a heavy reliance on the good, however, and many have faced asbestos exposure as a result of their trade.
Asbestos Superfund Sites in West Virginia
West Virginia has had several sites added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list over the years. Two of these sites expressed a concern with asbestos contamination among other environmental issues.
Fike Chemical Inc.
Fike Chemical Inc. in Nitro, WV occupies 12 acres with two functions; the majority of the site is dedicated to chemical processing and one acre of the site contained the Cooperative Sewage Treatment plant. Hazardous waste was improperly disposed of on site, where the owner buried these materials in lagoons. These wastes included various metals, asbestos, and several other contaminants that polluted the surrounding soil and groundwater. The site was added to the Superfund list in 1988. Cleanup efforts began in 1989 with disposal off-site of these contaminants and creating a new wastewater treatment system to avoid any future contamination. The site continues to be monitored and additional cleanup efforts will continue if necessary.
West Virginia Ordnance
The over 8,000-acre site of the West Virginia Ordnance in Point Pleasant was owned by the U.S. Department of Defense during World War II for the production of TNT. After being decommissioned in 1945, the industrial portion of the land was deeded to the state for wildlife management. Over the years, contamination was noted from its original use in TNT production. The EPA noted the industrial area, facilities on site, and the wastewater disposal system were all contaminated with TNT and its byproducts, as well as asbestos. The site was officially added to the list in 1983, and extensive cleanup efforts began shortly after. The EPA, along with the Department of Defense and state agencies, created a long-term monitoring plan and will continue to maintain the site.
Asbestos Exposure at Other West Virginia Job Sites
Asbestos exposure is also a problem if you look beyond the major cities and towns in West Virginia. 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.
Asbestos-Related News in West Virginia
West Virginia University will receive $730,000 as part of Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative. Learn more at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.
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.
Evans, David and Greg Johnstone. “Asbestos Use Companies and Locations in West Virginia.” All About Malignant Mesothelioma (September 2006.)
Sorahan, Tom. “Mortality of UK Oil Refinery and Petroleum Distribution Workers, 1951-2003.” Occupational Medicine 57, no. 3 (2007): 177-85.