Delaware’s only naturally occurring asbestos deposit is in New Castle County. The Mount Cuba Serpentine body contains asbestos in talc and magnesite veins. While soda spar mining occurred at the Mount Cuba tract, mining of toxic asbestos did not happen.
- Chemical plants
- Energy stations
A small vermiculite processing plant in Delmar handled asbestos-contaminated products. Additionally, construction companies used asbestos materials until the 1980s. Asbestos may still remain in historic buildings such as the Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
Occupations at Risk in Delaware
Delaware had a limited industrial economy. But workers in chemical plants and construction sites risked asbestos exposure.
- Chemical Plant Workers: Operators and machinery repair specialists often handled asbestos-containing materials in the factory’s boiler rooms, workspaces and production lines.
- Construction Workers: Asbestos exposure likely occurred to those who renovated older historic buildings. Houses, churches and mansions built before the 1980s may have exposed workers.
State laws now prescribe safety measures to prevent current workers from inhaling asbestos. But former workers have an elevated risk of asbestos exposure.
Job Sites with Known Exposure
Delaware had many chemical manufacturers. These produced chlorine, polyethylene resins, engine oil additives and thermoplastics. The plants that developed these products often relied on asbestos insulation for their machinery. Safety suits to protect workers against chemical exposure likely contained asbestos fibers.
Chemical plants in Delaware where asbestos exposure may have occurred:
- Allied Chemical
- Croda Inc.
- DuPont Chemical
- Helix Associates Inc.
- Atlas Chemical Industries
- Dow Chemical
- General Chemical Company
- Metachem (Standard Chlorine of Delaware)
Evraz Claymont Steel Holdings is another manufacturing site where asbestos use may have placed workers at risk for mesothelioma. Steelworks often used asbestos products to insulate their equipment.
A Delmar vermiculite processing facility received more than 314 tons of asbestos-contaminated ore from the W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana. This facility operated between 1943 and 1993 and processed 16 shipments from Libby.
DuPont Chemical contributed to asbestos exposure in Delaware. The company built their DuPont Building in downtown Wilmington in 1905. It built a nylon plant in Seaford in 1939. The nylon plant employed as many as 1,300 workers. Workers at the company’s other facilities may also have been exposed to asbestos.
The company faced many legal cases for their negligent asbestos use. Executives knew about the dangers of asbestos in the 1930s. They ignored the warnings and still bought asbestos materials. Workers were not told about the asbestos exposure risk.