Asbestos in Maine

In 2017, a study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found Maine has the highest rate of asbestos-related deaths (including mesothelioma and lung cancer) in the United States. Between 1999 and 2015, Maine’s death rate from the cancer malignant mesothelioma was 22.06 per million people annually. Nationally, only Maine and Washington exceeded death rates of 20 per million people each year between 1999 and 2015.

Since the state doesn’t have any significant natural deposits of the toxin, Maine residents that have sought cancer treatment were likely exposed through occupational exposure. The CDC listed three occupations most at risk for exposure, including construction, shipbuilding, and boatbuilding. Additionally, residents were exposed to the toxin in homes and buildings in the form of siding, shingles, insulation, brake pads, and floor or ceiling tiles.

According to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the state currently has no state or federal laws requiring the legal removal of asbestos from public buildings except in schools. The state does regulate the removal, transportation, and disposal of materials containing the mineral.

Have you worked somewhere with high asbestos risk? Call us for a case evaluation to assess your chances for exposure.


Occupational Exposure

For decades, the shipbuilding industry in Maine was a major source of exposure among employees. The state sits along over 200 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline where dozens of shipbuilding companies once operated. Until the 1990s, shipbuilding companies used the cancer-causing carcinogen throughout different components of each ship. Along with asbestos exposure, employees were vulnerable to multiple health risks caused by poor ventilation that required some form of lung treatment.

Mining operations involving the cancer-linked toxins were not prevalent throughout the state. However, the industry brought workers across the northern border into Canada for generations.

Chemical plants and paper mills were also frequent throughout Maine during the peak of asbestos use in the 1950s. Both industries are known for their use of the toxin and significant exposure to employees – ultimately causing lung damage. In paper mills, the machinery required to turn pulp into paper contained asbestos insulation. Other occupational sources of exposure include power plants and iron foundries.

In power plants, employees worked around equipment lined with toxic insulation. Components of the equipment, including valves, gaskets, and pumps, often contained asbestos. The use of the mineral manufactured into insulation prevented fires and overheating. Occupational exposure happened at multiple employers, including:

  • Bath Iron Works
  • Central Maine Power Plant
  • Great Northern Paper Company
  • International Paper Company
  • New England Insulation Company
  • New England Shipbuilding Corporation
  • Oxford Paper Company
  • Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
  • Rumford Paper Mill
  • Sanford Textile Mill
  • Union Chemicals Company
  • Yankee Nuclear Power Plant

A large percentage of homes in Maine were built before construction companies stopped using the toxin. Home construction and renovation can be a significant form of exposure, putting individuals at risk of further lung disease. Demolition of old homes may release airborne asbestos fibers, putting workers or homeowners at risk of inhalation (often requiring lung treatment in some form after prolonged exposure). Some asbestos-containing materials in homes included insulation, textured paint, popcorn ceilings, and floor tiles.

Exposure In The Military

Military veterans account for a third of all mesothelioma cases. In Maine, several military bases exposed the toxin to both military members and civilian workers.

This is an icon representing a Naval Air Station.

Brunswick Naval Air Station

The Brunswick Naval Air Station opened in 1942 and operated until its permanent closure in 2011. During decades of operation, the base was prevalent throughout World War II and the Cold War. The base took up over 3,100 acres of land, where it generated multiple waste materials, including pesticides, metals, and asbestos. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) included the site on its Superfund List in 1990 after soil and groundwater were found to be contaminated. While on the Superfund List, the site continued to operate during cleanup efforts.

This is an image representing a naval shipyard.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is the United State’s oldest continually operated shipyard. After opening in 1800, the cluster of islands off Maine’s Atlantic Coastline began building multiple ships. From colonial times to World War II, the site built hundreds of ships and submarines. In 1994, the EPA placed the site on the Superfund List after hundreds of years of storing and disposing of hazardous wastes. Long-term cleanup efforts still remain today. The site currently maintains nuclear-powered submarines.

This is an icon representing a shipyard factory.

Bath Iron Works

Bath Iron Works is a shipyard in Bath, Maine. Since 1884, the shipyard built battleships, frigates, cruisers, and destroyers. For a large part of the 1900s, the ships were built with the toxin inside boiler rooms and insulation because of its durability and heat resistance. The site still operates today, where it continues to build ships for the military.

The average mesothelioma settlement ranges from $100,000 to $3 million.

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Legal Help For Maine Residents

Legal claims stemming from asbestos exposure can help patients cover their treatment costs as well as compensate them for quality years of life lost.

Mesothelioma patients living in Maine have six years to file a personal injury claim against one or more companies responsible for their exposure to asbestos that led to their diagnosis. Loved ones can file a wrongful death claim with their state’s legal system within two years after a victim passes away from mesothelioma, according to the state’s statute of limitations. For help filing a legal claim and for additional treatment information, fill out a free case evaluation form.

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