Arizona Mesothelioma Resources and Asbestos Information

Arizona has had a flourishing asbestos industry since the 1950s. American Asbestos Mines, a subsidiary of Arizona Asbestos Inc., operated many asbestos mines.  Additionally, the infamous W. R. Grace & Company ran a vermiculite packing plant; called Solomon’s Mines, it was located in Phoenix. Although vermiculite itself is not harmful, W. R. Grace & Company often used vermiculite that was tainted with a toxic type of amphibole asbestos, the fibers of which are shorter and more brittle than chrysotile asbestos fibers. Therefore, they are considered more deadly because they stay in the lungs longer. The cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Yuma and Tucson have other industries that commonly use asbestos, including power stations and copper smelting plants. These industries generate massive amounts of heat; therefore, asbestos is commonly used, due to its fire resistant properties. Asbestos is also commonly used in the construction industry, in many factories and in mills; this contributed to Arizona ranking eighth in the nation in asbestos use in the mid-twentieth century. In the last twenty years of the twentieth century, more than five hundred Arizona residents died from asbestos-related illnesses, and almost two-thirds of those deaths were from malignant mesothelioma. Over half of those were from the Phoenix area alone. Arizona’s Department of Health Services has issued an alert for anyone living in the Phoenix area from 1964 to the present to be aware that they have an increased risk for exposure to asbestos fibers. Anyone who worked in the above industries should be checked regularly for the presence of asbestos-related cancer or other disease. Although mesothelioma may take many years to surface, a blood test can sometimes determine if there is a biomarker in the blood that indicates the presence of dormant mesothelioma. The State of Arizona has specific regulations pertaining to the reporting of various forms of asbestos-related maladies, including cancer. However, most of the regulatory efforts begin locally, so enforcement is up to the individual employer. State law mandates that employers provide workplaces that are free of occupational hazards and deadly diseases, but does not consider a practice or condition hazardous if it is industry-wide unless there is a specific regulation prohibiting that practice. Although businesses face fines and penalties for improper hazardous material usage and cleanup procedures, once the damage has been done, no amount of restitution can compensate for the loss of an individual’s life or health due to asbestos-related illnesses.