Asbestos in North Carolina

Home to naturally occurring asbestos, multiple military bases, industrial worksites and several vermiculite processing plants, North Carolina has a number of asbestos risks for its residents to be aware of. With three large military bases, veterans who served in the state may have been exposed to asbestos at their barracks or training facility. Workers at the state's mines, power plants, chemical factories and schools may also have been exposed to the fibers.

Find Top Doctors in North Carolina
North Carolina
12th

ranking in U.S. for mesothelioma & asbestosis deaths

Written By

This page features: 11 cited research articles

Mines in North Carolina were also once a major source of asbestos-contaminated talc. Talc and asbestos often occur together in the same geological formations, and the law did not require talcum powder products to be asbestos-free until regulations were passed in the 1970s.

Talc suppliers who operated mines in North Carolina have been sued for exposing consumers to asbestos. One record-setting lawsuit against Whittaker, Clark & Daniels resulted in an $18 million verdict in 2016.

The following year, a government-licensed laboratory in Greensboro discovered asbestos fibers in cosmetics marketed to young girls, prompting the national retail chain Justice to withdraw a line of products.

However, this time the contaminated talcum powder in question had been sourced from China, rather than local mines.

Occupations and Environmental Areas at Risk

Naturally occurring asbestos is found in the western portion of the state around the Appalachian Mountain range. Known asbestos deposits are found in eight counties, and some of these deposits are former mine locations where many workers were heavily exposed to asbestos.

North Carolina Mesothelioma &
Asbestosis Deaths, 1999-2013

  • 843 Mesothelioma Deaths
  • 278 Asbestosis Deaths
  • 1121 Total Deaths

Treatment Centers near North Carolina

Duke Cancer Institute

Duke Cancer Center

20 Duke Medicine Circle Durham, NC 27710

Augusta University Cancer Center

Augusta University Cancer Center

1411 Laney Walker Blvd. Augusta, GA 30912

University of Maryland Cancer Center

University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center

22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Doctors in North Carolina

Edward Levine

Edward Levine

Surgical Oncology
David H. Harpole Jr.

David H. Harpole Jr.

Thoracic Surgery
Betty Tong

Betty Tong

Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery
Asbestos.com Mesothelioma Guide

Get a Free Mesothelioma Guide

Free information, books, wristbands and more for patients and caregivers.

Get Yours Today

Naturally Occurring Asbestos Sites

Ashe County

Avery County

Caldwell County

Jackson County

Macon County

Mitchell County

Transylvania County

Yancey County

Counties That Have Naturally Occurring Asbestos in Ultramafic Rock Formations:

Aside from the state’s naturally occurring asbestos, a number of locations, such as workplaces or public buildings, have been a source of asbestos exposure for North Carolina residents.

Workplaces and Public Buildings Where Asbestos Has Been Found:

Even if the asbestos in a building is considered safely contained, mistakes during renovation could pose an exposure risk to those nearby. For example, a state employee found workers removing asbestos from his building the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission offices without using proper safety equipment. He was allegedly fired for reporting these violations. The North Carolina Medical Society responded by stating that asbestos amounts were “minuscule.”

Military Facilities

Many of the buildings at Fort Bragg, a military base in Fayetteville, were built with asbestos-containing materials. In 2008, a large scandal was exposed when a solider at the facility, along with up to nine other soldiers, was ordered to scrape asbestos tiles out of barracks and bring the materials to a nearby dumpster. The soldiers were exposed to the asbestos for 11 days without any proper training or gear, and tests revealed that the tile backing contained up to 25 percent chrysotile asbestos (anything over 1 percent asbestos is considered hazardous). Other soldiers in the area may have been exposed to asbestos in the air after the project, although the Army denies that any of the soldiers were placed in danger.

North Carolina is also home to the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. This facility includes several camps and a Marine Corps air station, all of which may pose an asbestos exposure threat to the men and women who serve at the base. Asbestos was found on the pipes at Camp Grainger and both buildings at Tarawa Terrace.

In a public release addressing environmental concerns at the facility, North Carolina’s Seymour Johnson Air Force Base indicated that the following materials on site may contain asbestos:

The air force base has regulated that all renovation projects on campus must be preceded by an asbestos examination and that any materials containing asbestos must be removed by an abatement professional. They also report that all on-base housing units were built with asbestos-free materials.

Vermiculite Refineries

Founded in 1954 as a of Zonolite, Inc., a W.R. Grace-owned vermiculite refinery (at one time owned by Carolina Vermiculite Company) received at least 150 shipments of materials from Libby, Montana’s W.R Grace vermiculite mine. The facility stopped processing Grace vermiculite in June 1987. More than 10,100 tons of asbestos-tainted vermiculite arrived at the facility in High Point, where workers exposed the mineral to heat until it “popped.” While processing the asbestos-contaminated vermiculite for use in paints, plastics and construction materials, workers at the refinery were at high risk for inhaling airborne asbestos. Testing in 2000 found that the remaining soil at the former facility was not a current asbestos problem and that no remedial action was necessary.

While the High Point refinery was known to process asbestos-contaminated vermiculite, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also listed three other North Carolina facilities that “potentially” received Libby’s vermiculite ore. W.R. Grace and Company’s shipping invoices did not indicate that any shipments had been made to these facilities, but ore processed from other vermiculite companies may have been laced with asbestos. These other North Carolina-based vermiculite processing facilities included the Southern Vermiculite Plant in Franklin County, Carolina Wholesale in Sanford and the American Vermiculite Company in Spruce Pine.

Asbestos Research at the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences

In December 2008, the EPA issued a $2.1 million grant to the North Carolina-based Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences. The grant was designated for the study of vermiculite, a mineral that resembles asbestos, to determine the similarities and differences between the two substances. Laboratory studies conducted during the three-year study hope to identify the specific toxicity of the fibers as well as the retention rate of the fibers in the lungs of lab rats.

North Carolina Asbestos Removal

EMSL Analytical, Inc., a company that specializes in environmental quality testing, grew into a newer and larger Charlotte facility in August 2011. Company officials said that the increased demand for asbestos testing in the area necessitated finding a larger facility, which is now twice as large as their original workspace. The lab will test a wide range of samples, including Asbestos PLM bulk samples, fiber count PCM air samples and Asbestos TEM air samples.

Another large North Carolina-based environmental remediation company, Environmental Holdings Group, estimates that 40 percent of its projects are asbestos-related. The company has completed over 2,000 removal tasks in the past 10 years, including several projects in nearby states.

Asbestos labs such as ESML Analytical are regulated under North Carolina’s Asbestos Hazard Management Program (AHMP). The AHMP regulates training for asbestos professionals and issues permits for asbestos removal projects. It also investigates public complaints about exposed asbestos. Under the AHMP, industrial operations in North Carolina must also perform routine air monitoring, install and regularly inspect air cleaning devices and contract with a licensed asbestos abatement business for the removal of friable asbestos.

Asbestos Violations in North Carolina

Businesses and individuals who break state or federal asbestos regulations during maintenance, demolition or any other work involving asbestos are subject to fines from the EPA and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

In December 2014, the city of Charlotte paid a $2,500 fine to Mecklenburg County after failing to obtain the proper permits needed to renovate a Charlotte Fire Department building on North Graham Street. A former employee of the fire department claims she was fired by the city for reporting safety issues in the building, including asbestos and mold. The city maintains it let her go because she shared an offensive social media post on Facebook.

According to Sue Rutledge, head of Charlotte’s building services division, officials did not know permits were needed for the repairs that took place, including the removal of a temporary wall and other renovations. However, the city later admitted that it should have sought a permit for the job.

In June 2008, the North Carolina Department of Labor issued a $350 fine to Gray Stone Day School in Misenheimer for neglecting to inform its employees about asbestos-containing materials on site. Pfeiffer University’s Harris Science Building, where the day school is located, contained asbestos insulation on steam pipes and spray-on asbestos fireproofing material.

In addition to the fine, Gray Stone received a written citation for not having a written hazard communication program that explains potential hazards to employees. Another citation was issued over a lack of employee training on hazardous materials.

Free VA Claims Assistance

Get Help Now

Qualify for Free Medical Care

See If You Qualify

Get Help Paying for Treatment

Learn More
  •  
  •  
  •  

Did this article help you?

Thank you for your feedback. Would you like to speak with a Patient Advocate?


Matt Mauney, Content Writer at Asbestos.com

Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of professional writing experience. He joined 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 advancements. Prior to joining Asbestos.com, Matt was a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel. Matt also edits some of the pages on the website. He also holds a certificate in health writing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sources
  1. ABC News - Fort Bragg responds to barrack concerns about asbestos exposure. (10 December 2008). Retrieved from: http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=6547116
  2. Appalachian State - Asbestos: Environmental Health Safety and Emergency Management. (4 August 2008). Retrieved from: http://safety.appstate.edu/asbestos
  3. Department of Health and Human Services - Asbestos in North Carolina: Rules and Regulations. (20 May 2011). Retrieved from: http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/asbestos/rules.html
  4. Naturally Occurring Asbestos Sites in N.C. (2011) Retrieved from: http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/oee/noa/sites.html
  5. Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) in North Carolina. (Aug. 2011) Retrieved from: http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/oee/noa.html
  6. Environmental Working Group - Asbestos Shipments Received in North Carolina. (2009). Retrieved from: http://www.ewg.org/research/maps/states-received-asbestos-shipments
  7. Field Testing of Water-Distribution Systems at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. (15 May 2005). Retrieved from: http://www.tftptf.com/images/Sautner_ASCE8015.pdf
  8. Helms, A. (2010, November 11). Cms finds asbestos in ed center. Charlotte Observer. Retrieved from: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/
  9. North, O., & Jensen, N. (1958). Ecology and natural resources. Bureau of Mines, 1, 1307-1316 . Ex-official Says Asbestos Claim Led to Trouble - Charlotte Observer. (Oct. 21, 2008) Retrieved from: http://www.environmental-expert.com/news/emsl-expands-charlotte-asbestos-and-mold-lab-testing-lab-253619
  10. Rogoski, R. (2011). Cleaning up environmental messes. Triangle Business Journal, Retrieved from: http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/print-edition/2011/02/18/cleaning-up-environmental-messes.html?page=all
  11. Seymour Johnson - General Plan. (18 August 2008). Retrieved from: http://adminpress.jllpress.com/Continental_Group/documents/SeymourJohnsoneGP.pdf
  12. WRAL News - RTP Company gets Grant to Study Asbestos. (19 December 2008). Retrieved from: http://www.wral.com/news/local/noteworthy/story/4172117/
  13. WWAY News - Asbestos Found in NHC Public Defender's Office. (20 April 2010). Retrieved from: http://www.wwaytv3.com/asbestos_found_nhc_public_defender039s_office/04/2010
  14. U.S. Government Accountability Office - North Carolina Vermiculite Sites. (2011). Retrieved from: http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/gao-09-7sp/NC.html
  15. Harrison, S. (2014, December 8). Charlotte Failed to Secure necessary Permits for Arson Building. Retrieved from http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article9242753.html
  16. Nagem, Sarah. (2008, June 26). The State Has Cited Gray Stone Day School for Being Lax about Determining the Presence of Asbestos-containing Materials in Its Building and Informing Its Employees. Retrieved from http://archive.salisburypost.com/archive_detail.php?archiveFile=2008/June/26/Area/957339.xml&start=360&numPer=20&keyword=pfeiffer&sectionSearch=&begindate=1%2F1%2F1983&enddate=12%2F31%2F2009&authorSearch=&IncludeStories=1&pubsection=&page=&IncludePages=1&IncludeImages=1&mode=allwords&archive_pubname=Salisbury+Post%0A%09%09%09

View our resources for patients and families

Get Help Today
Get Your Free Mesothelioma Guide