West Virginia Mesothelioma Resources and Asbestos Information
The capital and largest city of West Virginia is Charleston, which lies in the western oriented Kanawha County. Here, the majority of asbestos victims succumbed to asbestos related illnesses between 1980 and the year 2000. Of the 594 deaths from asbestos-related diseases, just under half were mesothelioma patients. More common but generally less fatal, asbestosis accounted for the remainder of these deaths.
Kanawha County was home to 160 of these individuals, 96 of whom died of asbestosis. While asbestosis is much more commonly contracted than malignant mesothelioma, it has been found that those who suffer from it are able to be treated, if not cured, when a diagnosis is received during the earliest stages of the illness. Conversely, mesothelioma is understood to be fatal.
The economy of West Virginia has long been bolstered by coal mining. Present day oil drilling is also a regional activity; however, it has as of yet produced no significant quantities of oil. In spite of this fact, the state boasts two major oil refineries. It is also home to many chemical plants including those of both Union Carbide and Dupont, companies that have both established reputations for environmentally unsafe operations.
In addition to the refineries and chemical plants, the Morgantown Medical Research Center serves as West Virginia’s sole medical facility while being officially labeled as an asbestos jobsite. The structure itself, built prior to 1980, was constructed using many asbestos containing materials included the asbestos lagging that was at one time a standard form of insulation for water pipes, electrical conduits, boilers and HVAC ductwork.
The history of asbestos use in West Virginia tends to parallel that of the industrial age. Asbestos insulation was frequently implemented to reduce occupational hazards that arose with the industrial age and the subsequent frequent use of corrosive chemicals, heat, flame and electrical current. It was also used in the development of electrical machinery and cloth, as well as in countertops for chemical labs. Asbestos was at one time even used in protective clothing.
Numerous medical studies have revealed that oil refineries and power plants offer some of the highest levels of asbestos exposure. Contrary to some circles of thought, asbestos products do not remain fixed in place. They do degrade overtime, allowing the asbestos to become friable, which is the point of degradation at which the material crumbles and begins to release fibers into the air by the millions.