Quick Facts About Asbestos in Alabama
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About Alabama

Asbestos exposure in Alabama primarily occurs in occupational settings. Residents who don’t work around asbestos products have a lower risk of developing mesothelioma from the carcinogen. Exposure to naturally occurring asbestos in Alabama is still a possibility for many residents.

Alabama’s naturally occurring asbestos deposits are near the Georgia state line, north of Auburn. These deposits sit at the end of a string of asbestos deposits that dot the Appalachian Mountains. Some were once asbestos mining prospects but never mined commercially.

It was common for industrial and manufacturing companies in Alabama to use asbestos fibers for various applications. The mineral’s heat resistance and insulation properties were beneficial. Specific industries, such as manufacturing and construction, had a higher risk of exposure. Asbestos did not become regulated until the 1970s.

In July 2021, parents and students protested outside Dunbar Magnet School in Mobile, Alabama. They demanded action to remove asbestos and mold. School officials claim that asbestos was removed from four classrooms the year prior. Parents say the entire school needs renovation.

At-Risk Occupations in Alabama

The use of asbestos was once prevalent in shipyards, power plants, mills and many other industrial facilities. Anyone who worked for the military, government, manufacturing and construction industries was particularly at risk.

Government & Shipping

Government buildings in Mobile and NASA facilities in Huntsville were constructed with asbestos. Unprotected workers faced exposure to dangerous fibers. Workers at the Alabama Drydock & Shipping Company in Mobile have filed numerous legal claims against the shipyard. They claim that asbestos exposure causes numerous diseases among workers.


Many veterans lived and worked at Fort McClellan, a U.S. Army training installation near Anniston, Alabama. They were at risk of exposure to asbestos and many other toxic substances.

Fort McClellan housed the Chemical Corps and its school, which trained soldiers in chemical warfare. The use and disposal of chemical weapons and toxic waste, including asbestos waste, contaminated the soil and water supply.

Many veterans were exposed to various toxic substances before the base closed in 1999. Cleanup and environmental remediation of the property were completed in 2014. McClellan is now home to the Alabama National Guard and a mixed-use community.

Steel Workers

Steel and factory workers in Birmingham, Fairfield, Ensley and Irondale were exposed to asbestos-contaminated vermiculite. Thousands of tons of raw ore from the asbestos-contaminated vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, were shipped out.

The ore went to U.S. Steel Corporation plants and Zonolite exfoliation facilities in these cities up to 1981. Asbestos exposure at Zonolite exfoliation facilities was exceptionally high. They processed raw ore in ways that generated considerable asbestos-contaminated dust.

Factory Workers

Shook and Fletcher was an industrial insulation manufacturer in Birmingham. The company used asbestos in its insulation from the 1950s through the 1970s. Shook and Fletcher had to declare bankruptcy in 2002 because of asbestos litigation.

Cement Manufacturing

In 2004, the Birmingham News printed a series of reports on the severity of asbestos problems in Alabama. One story detailed how Rock Wool Manufacturing, a cement manufacturer in Leeds, added asbestos to its products as a bonding agent.

When unprotected workers handled the cement, they were exposed to the toxic substance. The company received more than 140,000 lawsuits from workers and their families due to the exposures.

Sports & Entertainment

A July 2010 report in the Huntsville Times showed that workers also found asbestos during a renovation of the Von Braun Center. Crews reported finding asbestos in the ductwork, floor tiles and exterior panels. Brandi Quick, assistant director of the sports and entertainment facility, said workers had located asbestos in four building sections.


Numerous schools in Alabama have removed asbestos from their buildings. In 2017, several elementary and high schools announced plans to remediate or remove asbestos-containing materials. One example includes asbestos piping and pipe insulation.

Alabama Job Sites with Confirmed Asbestos Exposure

Job sites across Alabama, including Shook & Fletcher, Fort McClellan and Farley Nuclear Plant and others, often exposed workers to asbestos. Products manufactured at these job sites and machinery with asbestos-containing parts placed many of these workers at risk of asbestos exposure.


  • Fort McClellan


  • Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant
  • Fort McClellan


  • Alabama Power Plant
  • Ingalls Steel Construction Co.
  • Shook & Fletcher


  • Farley Nuclear Plant


  • Sanmina-SCI Corp.
  • Union Carbide Chemical Plant


  • Rock Wool Manufacturing Co.


  • Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co.
  • Alabama Dry Dock & Shipping Co.


  • Gulf States Paper Mill
  • Alabama Dry Dock & Shipping Co.

Tuscaloosa Tornadoes

The Tuscaloosa Tornadoes of April 2011 resulted in similar health risks. Damage from the deadly tornadoes in the college town exposed residents to asbestos products. These products had lain dormant for over 50 years when asbestos use was at an all-time high.

Did You Know?
6,000+ structures took damage from the F-4 tornado. Most contained insulation and other materials laced with asbestos.

The devastating tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa was one of the most significant documented incidences of asbestos exposure.

Many state and federal facilities affected by the tornado damage fell under strict regulations for asbestos removal and disposal. The single-family dwellings containing asbestos did not fall under the same guidelines.

Cancer Support Resources in Alabama

Local resources are available to people with cancer in Alabama. The Cancer Wellness Foundation of Central Alabama helps patients access transportation to medical appointments. They also advocate for proper care and provide nutritional counseling.

Cancer Freeze is an annual fundraiser in Florala that raises money for local families affected by cancer. The Ronald McDonald House offers affordable temporary housing to cancer patients and their families in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.

Survivors can work with the Alabama Cancer Action Center. This organization fights cancer by supporting laws and policies that promote cancer research and improve patient care.