Asbestos in Tennessee

Asbestos use and exposure in industrial factories, construction sites and chemical facilities throughout Tennessee have contributed to 612 asbestos-related deaths in the state from 1999 to 2010, with mesothelioma accounting for 491 of these deaths. Among the states, Tennessee ranks 20th for deaths attributed to the toxic mineral.

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Ranking in U.S. for mesothelioma & asbestosis deaths
Mesothelioma Deaths
Asbestosis Deaths
Total Deaths

The impact of decades of asbestos exposure on countless Tennessee residents cannot fully be understood yet, as the latency period for mesothelioma is typically between 20 and 50 years. Doctors and scientists at the state’s cancer facilities continue to research potential cures and treatments for all asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis and lung cancer.

Because of the negligence of many manufacturing and industrial companies, potential lawsuits and legal action may still be pursued. Attorneys assisting clients in filing claims against employers may help mesothelioma patients and others recoup burdensome medical costs. State and federal health agencies continue to address the health risks of exposure to asbestos fibers as natural disasters reveal how much asbestos still exists in residential and commercial buildings.

Environmental Areas at Risk

Chattanooga and surrounding areas

In April 2011, a large EF5 tornado swept through the heavy populated areas of seven states, including Tennessee, killing a total of more than 300 people and destroying entire neighborhoods of homes and local businesses. While Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was hit the hardest, the damage caused by the storm posed health risks to Tennessee’s residents who were left with large amounts of debris to clean up and homes to rebuild. Because asbestos materials were widely used in residential and commercial buildings in Tennessee until the 1980s, health officials said there was a high chance that asbestos was present in the wreckage. Exposure to asbestos in Tennessee and the other states hit by the tornado goes beyond the fibers present in the debris. As no laws dictate how asbestos should be removed and disposed from single-family homes that were damaged from natural disasters, residents are concerned about the risk of inhaling airborne fibers as homeowners begin the rebuilding process.


In May 2010, a devastating flood ran through Nashville and other small towns in central Tennessee, damaging more than 11,000 properties. The Nashville Mayor’s Office Recovery Team urged homeowners to take precautions when removing flood debris and repairing or rebuilding damaged homes because asbestos materials were likely present in homes and other buildings constructed before the 1980s. The team suggested calling asbestos abatement professionals instead because the potential risk to others was so high.

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Treatment Centers near Tennessee

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

2220 Pierce Avenue, Nashville, TN 37232

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West Cancer Center & Research Institute in Memphis
Tennessee Oncology, mesothelioma treatment center

Tennessee Oncology

250 25th Avenue North, Nashville, Tennessee 37203

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UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center
Winship Cancer Institute - Emory

Doctors in Tennessee

Jeremiah L. Deneve
Edward Kirk Barnes
Michel Kuzur
David R. Spigel
Sally J. York
Leora Horn
Michael Neuss
Evan Osmundson
Matthew Ballo

Matthew Ballo

Radiation Oncologist

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Eric S. Lambright

Damage from 2010 Flood Closes Nashville Church Doors for Asbestos Removal

The Rose of Sharon Primitive Baptist Church in North Nashville was inundated by two feet of brackish water during the flood. After the waters receded, congregants began the recovery process. As they cleared away carpets, pews and drywall, they experienced respiratory and skin problems, so they called a halt to the renovation efforts and called the code enforcement agency, who found that the building contained asbestos and other contaminants. The church members were stunned to discover that they were handling damaged asbestos products and putting others in the neighborhood at risk, as well, since the fibers were friable and airborne. That’s when they decided to call a professional asbestos abatement service to handle the removal and disposal of the hazardous materials. It took almost a year to remove all the asbestos from the church.

The Nashville Flood Recovery Website has more information about the recovery process, which is still underway as of October 2011.

Jobsites with Known Asbestos Exposure:

  • Erachem Comilog, Inc.
  • Thyssen-Dover Elevator facility
  • Franklin Milll (International Paper)
  • Mueller Company Plant
  • American Smelting and Refining Company
  • Combustion Engineering

Asbestos Litigation in Tennessee

Jury Awards Widow $1.4 Million in Lawsuit against Asbestos Manufacturer

Jury Lawsuit Against Asbestos

The widow of a former Chattanooga pipefitter won a verdict against the manufacturer of asbestos-containing equipment for $1.4 million. In 2009, Marian Jackson sued North Brothers for providing asbestos-laced materials to her husband’s employer. Philip Jackson had worked as a pipefitter with Combustion Engineering for more than 30 years. During his career, Jackson worked with North Brothers products that contained asbestos, which led to Jackson’s death from mesothelioma in September 2009.

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Senior 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.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at Asbestos.com
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9 Cited Article Sources

The sources on all content featured in The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com include medical and scientific studies, peer-reviewed studies and other research documents from reputable organizations.

  1. Baptist Memorial Health Care – Radiation Oncology. (2011). : Retrieved from: http://www.baptistonline.org/memphis/services/cancer/radiation-oncology-center/
  2. Ferguson, R. and Knutti, E. (1991 October). ASARCO New Market/Young Mines, Mascot, Tennessee (Report No. HETA 88-108-2146). Retrieved from: http://www2a.cdc.gov/hhe/search.asp
  3. Kiefer, M and Driscoll, R. (2000 September). Thyssen-Dover Elevator, Middleton, Tennessee (Report No. HETA 2000-0185-2808). Retrieved from: http://www2a.cdc.gov/hhe/search.asp
  4. Durgam, S. and Aristeguieta, C. (2010 January). Evaluation of Potential Exposures at an Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide Processing Plant (Report No. HETA 2007-0331-3100). Retrieved from: http://www2a.cdc.gov/hhe/search.asp
  5. Burton, N.C. and McCullough, J. (2002 April). NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Report: Mueller Company, Chattanooga, Tennessee (Report No. HETA 98-0237-2872). Retrieved from: http://www2a.cdc.gov/hhe/search.asp
  6. International Paper. (2010). Asbestos Management Policy. : Retrieved from: http://www.internationalpaper.com/US/EN/Company/FranklinMill/AsbestosManagement.html
  7. Cass, M. and Toone, S. (2011, May 1). Many still struggle to restore their homes and lives. The Tennessean. : Retrieved from: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110501/NEWS/305010077/Many-still-struggle-restore-their-homes-lives
  8. Morton, J. (2011, June 13). No rules cover dealing with asbestos in damaged homes. The Tuscaloosa News. : Retrieved from: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20110613/NEWS/110619867/1007
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2011). Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2008 [Data file]. CDC WONDER Online Database: Retrieved from: http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html

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Last Modified February 13, 2020

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