While the majority of those who died or have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in Texas worked in occupations where they inhaled the asbestos fibers regularly, others were exposed from simply living near hazardous jobsites, such as the W.R. Grace & Company/Texas Vermiculite site in Dallas, which imported shipments of asbestos-tainted vermiculite from Libby, Montana until 1992.
In May 2021, about 115 firefighters responded to a fire at a warehouse in Austin, Texas, that was contaminated with asbestos-containing materials. The firefighters later received X-rays as a precautionary measure to document their lung health in case they develop asbestos-related diseases later in life.
Occupations at Risk in Texas
Most Texans who suffer from asbestos related diseases like mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos on the job, where they worked in oil refineries, steel mills and foundries, chemical plants, automobile factories and petro-chemical industries.
Jobsites with Known Exposure:
- Texaco Oil
- Lone Star Industries
- Texas Chemical
- Lyondell Chemical
- Chevron Phillips Chemical
- Gulf Oil
- Bethlehem Shipping Company
- Gulfport Shipping Company
- Todd Shipping Company
Oil Refineries & Corporations
Oil and chemical refineries provide jobs to thousands of people in Texas, but these occupations are dangerous as they require constant exposure to high-intensity heat. Because of its heat resistant qualities, asbestos was used as an insulating material as well as a fire retardant to protect workers and keep them safe while working in these conditions. As a result of this practice, workers in these fields have died from asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Shipyard workers and crews are occupations that have been known to have high risks for asbestos exposure because the material was widely used until the 1980s. Not only was asbestos used as a fire retardant in these ships and shipyards, it was often used to coat pipes and boilers located in engine rooms because of its insulation properties.
Asbestos-containing materials were widely used in schools across the U.S. Public schools are required to assess asbestos-containing materials and maintain an updated report on the potential for those materials to result in exposure. Many schools in Texas contain asbestos that must be contained or removed.
For example, in January 2019, construction on two schools in Tyler, Texas, was stalled to abate asbestos. The schools, John Tyler and Robert E. Lee, featured old buildings that contained asbestos-contaminated floor tiles. A professional asbestos abatement company was hired to safely remove the contaminated tiles before construction continued.