Asbestos in New Jersey

Since its founding, New Jersey has been a largely industrial state, and the state's dependence on factory production increased in the Industrial Revolution. Emerging industries such as textiles, electric power plants and iron mining overtook agricultural jobs. Many New Jersey residents found employment in these occupations, where asbestos exposure was a major threat.

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About New Jersey

Ranking in U.S. for mesothelioma & asbestosis deaths
8th
Mesothelioma Deaths
1,912
Asbestosis Deaths
474
Total Deaths
2,386

Cities such as Paterson and Trenton expanded the most, developing many new factories to produce electrical equipment, processed food and chemicals. As the most densely populated state in the nation, New Jersey also ranked eighth nationally for the most deaths from mesothelioma and asbestosis from 2012 to 2013.

Occupational and Environmental Areas at Risk

Many of New Jersey’s prominent industries, including chemical development, textile manufacturing, shipping and railroad development exposed workers to large quantities of toxic asbestos. Sixteen of the state’s thriving manufacturing plants employed over 102,700 individuals and the eight shipyards in New Jersey employed 376,200 workers. These people often encountered asbestos in the walls or machinery in their workplace.

Employees of oil, power and chemical plants also faced the risk of asbestos exposure at their workplaces. One study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggested that as many as 486,400 individuals had been substantially exposed to asbestos in New Jersey workplaces since World War II began.

Job Sites with Known Asbestos Exposure:

  • A.O. Polymer
  • Cosden Chemical Coatings
  • Naval Weapons Station Earle
  • Rutgers University, Newark
  • Texaco, Inc., Bayonne Terminal
  • United States Testing Company, Inc., Hoboken
  • Zonolite Company/W.R. Grace facility in Hamilton
  • Celotex
  • DuPont Chemical
  • Johns Manville Products Corporation
  • National Gypsum Company
  • New York Shipbuilding Corporation
  • Skillman Village Power plant
  • Unarco
  • WR Grace Wayne Interim Storage Site, Passaic County
  • Exxon Corporation, Bayway Refinery and Chemical Plant
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Treatment Centers near New Jersey

Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

195 Little Albany St., New Brunswick, NJ 08903

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Fox Chase Cancer Center

Fox Chase Cancer Center

333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111

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Abramson Cancer Center

Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center

3400 Spruce Street Philadelphia, PA 19104

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Mount Sinai Hospital

Mount Sinai Hospital

1 Gustave L. Levy Place New York, NY 10029

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New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center
NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU Langone Medical Center

550 First Ave. New York, NY 10016

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Doctors in New Jersey

Richard Alexander

The Johns Manville Products Corporation

Johns Manville Products Corporation opened its first insulation plant in central New Jersey in the early 1900s.

The company patented its first product in 1868, and by 1923 it manufactured more than 200 different products, including:

  • Transite
  • Theater curtains
  • Liquid paints
  • Color-Blende shingles
  • Flexboard
  • Marinite to insulate Navy vessels

The company, which provided millions of dollars to industrial development, became one of the most notorious names in asbestos litigation. Johns Manville officials knew about the toxicity of asbestos as early as the 1930s, but they continued to use the inexpensive mineral in the company’s products for the next 50 years.

Under the pressure of numerous legal cases, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1982. Six years later, the company completely ended its asbestos lines and developed a settlement trust to deal with the future health claims of former injured employees. Redevelopment of the former Johns Manville facility – including proper asbestos abatement – was a key platform of Angelo Corradino, a mayoral candidate for Manville, New Jersey, in 2011. Corradino was elected mayor of Manville in 2014.

National Gypsum Company

In 1925, the National Gypsum Company developed asbestos-containing wallboard. The company purchased an Abestone asbestos cement plant in Millington, New Jersey in 1954, where it manufactured asbestos cement that contained up to 15 percent asbestos. In 1980, the company went bankrupt dealing with the numerous lawsuits filed by former employees who developed illnesses from exposure at the site.

National Gypsum improperly delivered much of its waste to the Millington asbestos dumps on New Vernon Road and White Bridge Road, leading to site contamination that was addressed in the early 1990s. The company entered into an administrative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1985 to ensure ongoing site studies and cleanup processes.

New Jersey Processing Facilities for W.R. Grace Vermiculite

The W.R. Grace vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, was the world’s leading producer of vermiculite, exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of asbestos-contaminated product to refineries across the nation. Seven refineries in New Jersey received vermiculite from the Libby mine, exposing workers to the fibers as they “puffed” the mineral into its usable form.

W.R. Grace’s Zonolite facility at 15 Industrial Drive in Hamilton Township began processing Libby’s vermiculite in 1948. Approximately 100,000 tons of asbestos-laden vermiculite was refined at the facility, which possessed the state’s only heat expansion equipment. The process of “exfoliating” vermiculite through heat exposure was one of the most dangerous steps of refining, releasing high amounts of asbestos into the air as the vermiculite was “popped.” This facility was named a Superfund site by the EPA and cleanup efforts were launched in 2006.

Other W.R. Grace Zonolite facilities in New Jersey included:

  • 35 Industrial Way in Trenton
  • 336 Whitehead Road, Trenton (Penn-Car Shops)
  • 1 River Road, Edgewater
  • 595 Rive Road, Edgewater
  • 308 Gilligan Street, Newark
  • 1101 South Front Street, Camden

These seven facilities processed over 2,500 shipments from Libby, totaling more than 338,000 tons of vermiculite.

A.O. Polymer

A.O. Polymer produced compounds such as plastics, resins and special polymers between the 1960s and 1993. In the 1970s, the facility was cited for numerous health violations, including improper disposal of wastewater, contamination of local drinking water and 13 air quality violations. During the 1981 cleanup efforts, 61 cubic yards of asbestos material was removed from the four-acre site.

New Jersey Renovation Projects Requiring Substantial Asbestos Removal

Many buildings in New Jersey still contain asbestos. Renovating these structures could cause construction workers and area residents to inhale asbestos. Some of these buildings are abandoned, such as a former psychiatric facility, and anyone who explores the empty buildings is at risk of asbestos exposure.

Current asbestos removal projects in New Jersey include:

  • Capital One Bank in Union City Branch
  • Greystone Psychiatric Hospital in Morris County
  • Skillman Village, a 250-acre site in Somerset County

Asbestos Litigation in New Jersey

Former employees of Johns Manville, National Gypsum and other leading asbestos companies in New Jersey faced frequent workplace exposures to asbestos. They often brought microscopic fibers home, unknowingly exposing their family members. New Jersey families affected by asbestos have filed lawsuits to seek compensation for resulting asbestos-related illnesses and wrongful deaths.

Johns Manville

In July 2014, a New Brunswick judge awarded $90.5 million to 11 families from Manville, a New Jersey town named after Johns Manville. Several of the victims who developed asbestos-related cancer never worked at the Manville plant but had family members who did.

The awards ranged from $4 million for Virginia Stanley, whose father was also a victim named in the lawsuit, to $15 million for John Ketchum, whose wife died in 2009 at age 49. The families received compensation from Anova Holding, AG, and Becon, AG, two Swiss companies that supplied asbestos to Johns Manville from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Decades earlier, in 1982, Johns Manville and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company paid $15.5 million to 683 former employees of the Raybestos-Manhattan Company of Passaic. The majority of the workers suffered from asbestosis, an incurable and progressive pulmonary disease.

National Gypsum and Others

In 2006, Anthony Olivo sought compensation for his wife’s death from mesothelioma and a noncancerous illness he developed after decades of occupational exposure to asbestos. Olivo, a former steamfitter and welder, worked at various industrial and commercial job sites in New Jersey from 1947 to 1984. Olivo’s wife developed mesothelioma because she washed his asbestos-contaminated work clothes.

The lawsuit named 32 companies that manufactured, supplied or exposed Olivo to asbestos products including National Gypsum Company, W.R. Grace & Co., Exxon Mobil Corporation, Texaco and Owens-Illinois. All defendants, with the exception of Exxon Mobil, settled with Olivo out of court for undisclosed amounts.

Johnson & Johnson

In April 2018, a multimillion-dollar verdict was awarded to a plaintiff alleging J&J’s talcum-based Baby Powder caused him to develop cancer.

A court in New Brunswick, New Jersey, awarded $117 million to Stephen Lanzo III and his wife. Lanzo claimed he developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talcum powder. The verdict included $36.1 million from Imerys SA, the company that supplied J&J’s talc.

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Writer and Editor

Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of professional writing and editing experience. He joined The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com in 2016, and he spends much of his time reading, analyzing and reporting on mesothelioma research articles to ensure people in the mesothelioma community know the latest medical advances. Prior to joining Asbestos.com, Matt was a Community Manager at the Orlando Sentinel. Matt also edits pages, articles and other content on the website. He holds a certificate in health writing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Last Modified January 14, 2019

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