Asbestos exposure results in devastating health consequences. Yet, asbestos was used prolifically throughout the U.S. between the 1850’s and early 1980’s. Though asbestos is less popular than it once was, it hasn’t been banned in America. Many Americans continue to endure tragic medical conditions as a result of their unnecessary exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos is a nation-wide problem, yet some states are worse off than others when it comes to the level of impact. In this article, we’ll review the top 5 states for asbestos-related deaths and exposure.

1. California

California has the highest number of asbestos-related deaths in all of America, with an average of 1,422 deaths per year from mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. California is a source of naturally occurring asbestos, found in 45 counties across the state.

In addition, several prominent industries are responsible for unnecessary exposure throughout California, including:

  • Mining
  • Oil and Gas
  • Shipyard
  • Power plants

The natural and unnatural exposure to asbestos has made California the top state for exposure to asbestos. Between 1999 and 2013, the following asbestos-related deaths were reported in California:

  • Mesothelioma: 3,997
  • Asbestosis: 1,517
  • Non-Mesothelioma Lung Cancer: 15,988

Despite the high prevalence of asbestos in the state, California residents and workers who have developed an asbestos-related disease have one of the shortest statutes of limitations for receiving legal compensation. Californians have only 1 year from diagnosis to file an asbestos-related lawsuit.

Learn more about legal options for asbestos-related diseases in California.

2. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has the second highest asbestos exposure rate in the nation and has more deaths from per million people than California.

Pennsylvania reported a total of 14,216 asbestos-related deaths between 1999 and 2013, broken down as follows:

  • Mesothelioma: 2,601
  • Asbestosis: 1,273
  • Non-Mesothelioma Lung Cancer: 10,404

Pennsylvania has a high volume of naturally occurring asbestos, found in mines and asbestos deposits throughout the state. However, the most devastating source of asbestos in Pennsylvania was from vermiculite ore mined in Libby, MT, and processed in New Castle and Ambler, PA. In fact, Ambler has received the tragic nickname of “Asbestos Capital of the World.”

Unfortunately, vermiculite mining wasn’t the only industries to expose Pennsylvanians to asbestos.

The following industries are primarily responsible for asbestos exposure in Pennsylvania:

  • Vermiculite Mining
  • Steel Mills
  • Locomotive Building
  • Shipyards

Workers who were wrongfully exposed to asbestos in Pennsylvania may receive compensation for their medical costs and damages, through a lawsuit. However, the statute of limitations on this legal recourse is only 2 years.

Read more about asbestos-related diseases and compensation in Pennsylvania.

3. Florida

Florida has also had a devastating amount of deaths due to asbestos, with a total of 14,248 deaths reported between 1999 and 2013.

The breakdown of those deaths is as follows:

  • Mesothelioma: 2,619
  • Asbestosis: 1,239
  • Non-Mesothelioma Lung Cancer: 10,476

Due to its coastal location, Florida’s asbestos industry tends to overlap with the ocean, as offshore drilling and shipbuilding activities are responsible for many asbestos-related deaths. However, agriculture, power plants, and numerous other industries also exposed Florida workers to asbestos.

The industries that contributed most to Florida’s exposure rates are:

  • Offshore Oil and Gas
  • Agriculture
  • Power Plants
  • Shipyards
  • Construction

There are no known sources of naturally occurring asbestos in Florida. Therefore, the asbestos exposure and subsequent deaths in Florida might have been prevented and are entirely unnecessary.

Florida residents who develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are often entitled to compensation, as long as the lawsuits fall within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations in Florida is 4 years from diagnosis.

Learn more about asbestos-related diseases and legal compensation in Florida.

4. New York

New York was one of the most influential states in bringing asbestos to America, as it popularized the use of asbestos in construction projects in the 1850’s. Because the city was riddled with asbestos for hundreds of years, many people have been exposed to the deadly substance throughout historic.

A total of 12,146 asbestos-related deaths were reported in New York between 1999 and 2013. These deaths are broken down as follows:

  • Mesothelioma: 2,253
  • Asbestosis: 935
  • Non-Mesothelioma Lung Cancer: 9,012

Although New York’s annual mesothelioma death rate is slightly less than the nation’s average, the sheer number of people living within the state has amplified the volume of deaths.

Asbestos victims may have been exposed through the construction and renovation industry, or through one of the other major industries in the state.

The five biggest asbestos industries in New York are:

  • Asbestos
  • Mining
  • Power Plants
  • Shipyards
  • Construction

Many asbestos victims in New York have successfully sued the companies that exposed them to asbestos. The statute of limitations for asbestos-related disease is 3 years from the initial diagnosis.

Read more about asbestos disease and litigation in New York.

5. Texas

Texas is the fifth highest state for exposure to asbestos in the United States, reporting 11,905 asbestos-related deaths between 1999 and 2013, from three major diseases:

  • Mesothelioma: 2,064
  • Asbestosis: 1,675
  • Non-Mesothelioma Lung Cancer: 8,256

Most of Texas’ exposure to asbestos is from both natural and unnatural sources. There are 8 known asbestos sites in Texas, as well as many thriving industries that currently or previously used notable levels of asbestos.

The top 5 industries for asbestos exposure in Texas are:

Oil and Gas

  • Manufacturing
  • Military
  • Shipyards
  • Chemical Plants

While these industries are responsible for much of Texas’ asbestos use, they aren’t the only ones. Asbestos was used prevalently in many types of work throughout many industries.

People exposed to asbestos in Texas may be eligible to receive compensation if they are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. The statute of limitations in Texas is 2 years from this diagnosis.

Read more expert information about asbestos in Texas.

Written by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

  1. U.S. Geological Survey, “Asbestos Map,” Retrieved from Accessed on September 8, 2018.

  2. Asbestos Nation, “Mapping the Deadly Toll of Asbestos,” Retrieved from Accessed on September 8, 2018.

  3. Asbestos Nation, “Asbestos-Related Deaths in California,” Retrieved from Accessed on September 8, 2018.

  4. Asbestos Nation, “Asbestos-Related Deaths in Pennsylvania,” Retrieved from Accessed on September 8, 2018.

  5. Asbestos Nation, “Asbestos-Related Deaths in Florida,” Retrieved from Accessed on September 8, 2018.

  6. Asbestos Nation, “Asbestos-Related Deaths in New York,” Retrieved from Accessed on September 8, 2018.

  7. Asbestos Nation, “Asbestos-Related Deaths in Texas,” Retrieved from Accessed on September 8, 2018.

Get Your Free 2023 Mesothelioma Guide

  • Top treatments & doctors
  • Financial assistance
  • Accessing VA benefits
Get Your Free Guide Now