Asbestos in Arkansas

arkansas
30th

ranking in U.S. for mesothelioma & asbestosis deaths

The risk of asbestos exposure for residents of Arkansas extends across the state. Arkansas has certain areas that place people at increased risk for exposure, specifically areas where the mineral was imported, where mining occurred and where improper demolitions took place. Not typically known for asbestos exposure, Arkansas ranks 30th in number of deaths from related diseases. From 1999 to 2013, more than 300 people died from a related disease in the state.

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Arkansas has no Superfund sites in which asbestos is listed as an official contaminant, but the toxic mineral can still be found in areas that pose a risk to residents. Arkansas was one of many states that received tainted vermiculite from Libby, Montana. The vast majority of this vermiculite went to North Little Rock. The remaining shipments went to other Arkansas cities like Nashville, Hope, Pine Bluff and Little Rock.

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Mesothelioma and Asbestosis Deaths, 1999-2013

  • 225 mesothelioma deaths
  • 99 asbestosis deaths
  • 324 total deaths

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Occupations at Risk

Occupational hazards exist in multiple fields, sectors and workplaces in Arkansas. Much of the danger is dependent on the daily functions of the occupation of an employee. Certain occupations provide more extreme hazards, like asbestos exposure, which can end up being fatal. The following list includes occupations that are at increased risk of being exposed to the toxic material:

Demolition asbestos exposure

Jobsites with Known Exposure

Although Arkansas is not generally associated with widespread asbestos exposure, the state does contain certain jobsites where the toxic material was present. Employees and visitors of these locations should take caution and consider seeking medical attention if exposure occurred.

Jobsites known for asbestos exposure in Arkansas include:

  • North Little Rock Parks
  • Stuggart School District
  • Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation

Fort Chaffee

Buildings in and near Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, were identified as containing asbestos and were demolished. According to a 2011 review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos was known to be contained within the buildings that were destroyed. But through a series of improper decisions, the EPA allowed the Fort Chaffee building to be demolished using a new and unproven control method that had not been properly tested and approved by the agency.

North Little Rock

In December of 2011, officials from the EPA met with residents of the North Little Rock community to discuss possible exposures that occurred at a former vermiculite processing facility. EPA officials confirmed that contamination was present on the site and that further testing would be required to confirm more details. The vermiculite plant that previously existed in North Little Rock may have contained asbestos from Montana’s Libby Mine, which was considered much more toxic than other types of asbestos.

Litigation

Asbestos Litigation

Arkansas, like most other states with known cases of exposure and subsequent development of cancers, has seen its share of asbestos lawsuits. Lawsuits dating back decades targeted manufacturers, employers and other negligent parties. These claims caused many companies to file for bankruptcy and settle claims through trusts.

According to online legal resource Justia, nearly 50 asbestos lawsuits have been filed in Arkansas since the late 1980s.Some cases are class action lawsuits filed by a group of people injured by asbestos, and many name multiple defendants.

Nationally, some plaintiffs were awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts. Others received more modest amounts through settlements or jury verdicts. Specific settlement amounts or jury verdicts of Arkansas lawsuits are often held private and are therefore not known. Because of more recent incidences of exposures in Arkansas through imported asbestos and water contamination, it is likely that more lawsuits will follow.

  1. Hope, H. (n.d.). The Thrill of a New Home Without the Cost; The Evolution of Residential Siding Materials in Arkansas. Retrieved from http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/Historic-Properties/National-Register/residential-siding-materials-in-arkansas
  2. Sala, O. et al. (2011). Proposed Classification of Ophiolites Deposits and Use of Materials Extracted According to Their Content of Asbestos. Retrieved from http://www.cprm.gov.br/pgagem/bari_italia/129.pdf
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2011, December 14). Early Warning Report: Use of Unapproved Asbestos Demolition Methods May Threaten Public Health. Retrieved from https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/274911-epa-inspector-generals-early-warning-report.html
  4. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. (2008, April 1). Where Asbestos Can Be Found. Retrieved from http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/asbestos_exposure_health/where.html
  5. Justia. (2015, June 24). District of Arkansas Torts – Injury Cases. Retrieved from https://dockets.justia.com/browse/state-arkansas/noscat-3/nos-368
  6. Morris, J. and Hamby, C. (2011, December 15). EPA Allowed Unsafe Handling of Asbestos, IG Says. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-center-for-public-integrity/epa-allowed-unsafe-handli_b_1151476.html
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2015, January). Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database. Retrieved from http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html

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