Asbestos Exposure in Delaware

Historically, residents of Delaware have been exposed to asbestos due to construction activity or home renovation while in their state. In The First State, there is only a single natural source of asbestos found in mineral deposits in the northern tip of the state. Conversely, a lot of hazardous exposure to asbestos experienced by Delawareans stems from commuting to occupational sources in other states (such as Pennsylvania). As such, the state’s asbestos-related rate of death (7.5 per 100,000 population between 1999 and 2017) is nearly identical to its neighbor to the north (7.4). Compared to the national average (4.9), these states maintain markedly higher rates of exposure-related illness and loss.

In addition to high state rates of asbestos-related death, many of Delaware’s counties had higher rates, too. For the same period of time, Sussex County’s rate of asbestos-related death was 9.6 per 100,000 people, New Castle County’s was 7.3, and Kent County’s was 5.8. These numbers include at least 211 diagnoses of asbestosis, 211 diagnoses of mesothelioma, and 844 cases of non-mesothelioma lung cancer. Moreover, across the country, Delaware ranked fifth in the age-adjusted death rate for malignant mesothelioma.

High-Risk Areas

While there is a lone natural source of asbestos in Delaware, the state does contain a few other related environmental hazards. Construction on buildings and roads, salvage yards, and renovation garbage have all created dangerous areas for the public. Similarly, controversy stirred among residents after asbestos-like fibers were seen in the air at an abandoned GM auto plant on Boxwood Road in Wilmington owned by real estate developer Harvey Hanna. In 2019, a fine of $20,000 was delivered to the site’s demolition company as well as its foreman by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. The pair of fees were handed down for violating “emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants.”

Additionally, residents may have experienced environmental exposure to asbestos from trash dumped along roadways and interstates in Kent County. Authorities admit the construction refuse and thrown-out appliances are a public health concern. Following testing, all of the samples taken from roadside piles but ten contained asbestos.

The Link Between Occupational and Secondary Exposure

Unique to Delaware, many people in the state experience the bulk of their exposure to asbestos while working in other states. According to data from the U.S. Census, more than 35,000 people leave the state each day to work in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, these states have some of the highest occurrences of natural asbestos in the country as well as buildings built before the 1980s containing the mineral in excess as a building material.

In recent years, teachers in Pennsylvania have come forward about their asbestos worries. As schools in some cities remain closed indefinitely while removal efforts continue, there are at least 2,000 other affected schools and 175 buildings in Philadelphia (a major commuting city for Delawareans). In 2019, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers disclosed that a teacher of 17 years had been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Both schools the teacher worked in had tested positive for the presence of asbestos.

Asbestos Removal in Delaware

For residents concerned about asbestos removal, multiple state-level offices work to protect the public against dangerous exposure. The Asbestos Management, Demolition & Renovation office in the state’s capital oversees the removal, transportation, and disposal of all asbestos in Delaware. The state warns that the mineral may be found in any of the following construction and renovation materials:

  • Automobile brake pads and linings
  • Backing on vinyl flooring
  • Decorative materials
  • Fireproof gloves and stove-top pads
  • Millboard, resilient floor tiles and tile adhesives
  • Patching and joint compounds
  • Pipe and furnace insulation
  • Shingles, siding, and roofing
  • Soundproofing textiles

For rules and regulations, informational documents, licensing requirements, and applications visit Delaware’s Office of Budget and Management’s page on Asbestos. Or, see a list of their Certified Asbestos Vendors.

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Asbestos-Related Treatment Centers in Delaware

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, it can take up to 30 or 40 years for symptoms to show up. Subsequently, many people don’t catch their illness until it’s too late. Doctors recommend screening early to catch any potential problems before they worsen – as diseases like mesothelioma are fatal. For individuals who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related lung disease or mesothelioma, getting proper testing is vital for an accurate prognosis and effective treatment.

Below are the National Cancer Institute’s designated cancer centers in the Delaware area (none yet exist within the state):


Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

  • Kevin J. Cullen, M.D., Director
  • 22 South Greene Street
  • Baltimore, Maryland 21201
  • Main and New Appointments: (410) 328-7904
  • Toll-Free: 1-800-888-8823

New Jersey

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

  • Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Steven Libutti, MD, FACS, Director
  • Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
  • 195 Little Albany Street
  • New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903
  • Main: (732) 235-2465


Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health

The Wistar Institute Cancer Center

  • Basic Laboratory Cancer Center
  • Dario C. Altieri, M.D., Director
  • 3601 Spruce Street
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
  • Main: (215) 898-3700

Fox Chase Cancer Center

  • Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Richard I. Fisher, M.D., President and CEO
  • Temple University Health System
  • 333 Cottman Avenue
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19111
  • Cancer Information Line: 1-888-369-2427 (1-888-FOX-CHASE)

Abramson Cancer Center

  • Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Robert H. Vonderheide, M.D., D.Phil., Director
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • 3400 Spruce Street
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
  • Main: (215) 615-5858
  • Medical Referrals: 1-800-789-7366

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

  • Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Steven Libutti, MD, FACS, Director
  • Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
  • 195 Little Albany Street
  • New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903
  • Main: (732) 235-2465

Next Steps

There could be other places not mentioned on this page that contain harmful asbestos in Delaware or the surrounding area frequented by its residents. If you think you have been exposed to asbestos, speak with a medical professional as soon as possible to discuss your personal history. Too, you can download our free mesothelioma guide for information on treatment and legal compensation.

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