Iowa Mesothelioma Resources and Asbestos Information

One of the main industries in Iowa is agriculture. The amount of mortality rates caused by asbestos has been lower in this state compared to others due to the prevalence of agriculture as opposed to industry. Between 1979 and 1999, 460 Iowans died of asbestos-related diseases. Precisely 80 percent of these deaths have been caused by mesothelioma. Polk County has the highest number of deaths that caused by asbestos. The counties that had the lowest rate of exposure to asbestos were Sioux, Washington, Calhoun, Grundy, Monroe, and Winneshiek. In these counties, there was only one victim that was recorded.

Many Iowans were exposed to asbestos in the state power plants where they worked. A Puerto Rican study of power plant workers found that 13 percent of these people had some degree of lung scarring caused by asbestos. Despite industry’s higher rates of asbestos-related deaths, Iowa’s food-based economy still put many farmers at risk because asbestos was a common component in the tractors these families relied upon. Asbestos fibers were commonly used in tractor brakes and gaskets, which could be exposed during the frequent repairs that were needed.

Asbestos is also used as protection from fires and as a heat shield. Facilities with steam generators usually have asbestos as insulation around pipes and pipe fittings. Fire doors are also sealed with asbestos in the case of a fire. Many efforts have been attempted to remove or lessen the amount of asbestos that is found in these power plants. However, mesothelioma still continues to rise among workers there.  These power plants are located in areas around the cities of Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Iowa City, Des Moines, Mason City, Waterloo, and Sioux City.

Two chemical manufactures, named Irwin Chemical Company and USI, have appeared on Iowa’s list of exposure sites for using asbestos in their plants. Crocidolite is one type of asbestos that is used in areas where corrosive substances are found. Crocidolite, also called ‘blue’ asbestos, is very deadly and can lead to disease more quickly than other forms of asbestos. Medical research shows that blue asbestos creates cellular mutations that will lead to the development of cancer at a faster rate.