Asbestos Exposure in Michigan

Michigan is part of what's known as the "Rust Belt" of the U.S. and tends to have a higher amount of asbestos exposure and a greater risk of mesothelioma to its residents than other states. According to the CDC, our great state has an above-average mesothelioma death rate of roughly 9.3 people per million annually, with the upper peninsula having a higher mortality rate and the lower peninsula having a higher population density with more mesothelioma cases. Why is this? Well, it's likely due to the 9 known asbestos mines and natural deposits in Michigan and the widespread use of asbestos from the early 1900s until the late 1900s in common Michigan industries.

So far, Michigan is ranked 10th in the United States for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths, with over 1,300 mesothelioma deaths and over 200 asbestosis deaths. Sadly, these numbers are expected to see an increase within the next 20-40 years since these diseases have such a long latency period.

Known cities where asbestos exposure has been discovered in the general community include:

  • Detroit
  • Grand Rapids
  • Ann Arbor
  • Dearborn
  • Flint
  • Lansing
  • Saginaw
  • Pontiac

Known cities where work sites containing asbestos are located include:

  • Adrian
  • Albion
  • Alma
  • Alpena
  • Ann Arbor
  • Battle Creek
  • Bay City
  • Benton Harbor
  • Big Rapids
  • Boyne City
  • Bridgeport
  • Bridgman
  • Capac
  • Charlevoix
  • Charlotte
  • Chelsea
  • Coldwater
  • Dearborn
  • Delray
  • Detroit
  • Dowagiac
  • East Lansing
  • Ecorse
  • Erie
  • Escanaba
  • Essexville
  • Farmington
  • Ferndale
  • Filer City
  • Flint
  • Grand Blanc
  • Grand Haven
  • Grand Rapids
  • Greenville
  • Hamtramck
  • Harbor Beach
  • Hastings
  • Highland Park
  • Hillsdale
  • Holland
  • Houghton
  • Howell
  • Ionia
  • Ironwood
  • Ishpeming
  • Jackson
  • Kalamazoo
  • Lansing
  • Lapeer
  • Lincoln Park
  • Livonia
  • Ludington
  • Madison Heights
  • Manistee
  • Marine City
  • Marquette
  • Marysville
  • Menominee
  • Midland
  • Monroe
  • Montague
  • Mount Clemens
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Muskegon
  • Negaunee
  • Newberry
  • Newport
  • Niles
  • Northville
  • Oak Park
  • Owosso
  • Palmer
  • Plymouth
  • Pontiac
  • Port Huron
  • Portage
  • Republic
  • River Rouge
  • Rochester
  • Royal Oak
  • Saginaw
  • Saint Clair
  • Saint Joseph
  • Sault Saint Marie
  • South Haven
  • Southfield
  • Stoney Creek
  • Sturgis
  • Traverse City
  • Trenton
  • Troy
  • Warren
  • Wayne
  • West Olive
  • White Pine
  • Wyandotte
  • Ypsilanti
  • Zilwaukee


Key Industries That Contribute to Asbestos Exposure in Michigan

Michigan is a very industrialized state, and given the nature of the key industries, it has been exposed to high concentrations of asbestos for generations. The key industries that are represented in Michigan include:

  • Automotive Industry: Detroit, Michigan has been the epicenter of the United States automotive industry for over a century, thanks to Henry Ford founding Ford Motor Company in the city. These automobile plants (including Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Plymouth, Hudson Motor Car Corp, and Continental Motor Company) are very asbestos-heavy and they represent the vast majority of asbestos exposure sites in Michigan.
  • Shipbuilding Industry: Michigan has the largest inland coastline in the country and provides a lot of space that can be used for shipbuilding. There are two known shipyards in Michigan where shipbuilders may have been exposed to asbestos: Eldean Shipyard and Defoe Shipyard.
  • Steel Industry: To support the automotive industry, Michigan has a large number of steel mills, metalworking shops, and foundries. These all have widely used asbestos, exposing steelworkers to the dangers it holds. Known job sites where asbestos exposure could have happened include the Michigan Steel Foundry, National Steel, the Great Lakes Steel Mill, and the Detroit Grey Iron Foundry.
  • Oil Industry: Michigan doesn't have a large oil industry, but it does have a good number of oil refineries and distribution hubs that are required to keep up with its industrial needs. Due to the volatile nature of oil, a lot of asbestos was used to prevent fires within these structures. Known oil companies in Michigan that could have exposed workers to asbestos include Consolidated Oil, Citrin Oil, Marathon Oil, and the synthetic liquid gas plant in Marysville.
  • Power Industry: Power plants were commonly lined with asbestos throughout the United States in the 1900s, and Michigan was no exception. Power plants that are known to have contained asbestos include the Northern Michigan Electric Cooperative, Detroit Edison, and Central Michigan Light and Power Company. Nuclear plants that are known to have contained asbestos include Bridgeman Nuclear Plant, Cook Nuclear Power Plant, and Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant, among others.

Smaller industry job sites represented in Michigan that may have exposed the community and workers to asbestos include:

  • Hospitals
  • Chemical Plants
  • Schools
  • Vermiculite Plants

There have been record-breaking verdicts for asbestos lawsuits brought forth in Michigan, especially relating to asbestos exposure in the automotive industry. The first asbestos brake linings were made in 1906 in the United States and it was commonly used after that until the early 1990s when a decline began to occur.

Asbestos Deposits and Imports in Michigan

There are five areas in Michigan that are naturally occurring deposits of asbestos:

  1. Iron Mountain
  2. Negaunee
  3. Marquette
  4. Niagara
  5. Norway

Large amounts of asbestos fibers were brought into Michigan with vermiculite for processing. It's known that at least 163,000 tons of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite was brought to Michigan by W.R. Grace Company, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. All of the facilities that processed the vermiculite exposed entire communities to asbestos dust, including the following cities:

  • Dearborn
  • Grand Rapids
  • Reed City
  • Warren
  • Elsie
  • Milan
  • River Rouge

W.R. Grace Company eventually filed for bankruptcy after thousands of asbestos lawsuits were brought against them.

All I can do is thank the people at Serling & Abramson for taking my case and getting me compensated.
Michael S.

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