A new study has reported that the Philadelphia region is one of the worst in the country in regards to having a higher than the national average number of deaths related to asbestos. Throughout the United States, approximately 5 out of 100,000 deaths are caused from an asbestos-related disease or illness, according to the report by the Environmental Working Group Action Fund.
In Delaware County, this number goes up to 12.9 deaths out of 100,000 and from 1999 to 2013, there were 1,078 residents who passed away because of an asbestos-related disease.
The report took a combination of federal death records from mesothelioma and asbestosis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and utilized a formula that was designed by international cancer researchers from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which gave an estimate for asbestos-causing lung cancer fatalities.
In the area, other counties that also had a higher than average amount of asbestos-related illnesses are:
- Montgomery County: 1,272 deaths (1999-2013), 10.8 mortality rate per year
- Bucks County: 747 deaths (1999-2013), 8.0 mortality rate per year
- Chester County: 439 deaths (1999-2013), 6.1 mortality rate per year
- Philadelphia County: 1,345 deaths (1999-2013), 5.9 mortality rate per year
Asbestos is a natural fiber that can be woven into fabrics, and was used in fire-resistant and insulating materials. Asbestos was used for many years in insulation, floor tiling, asbestos roof sheeting, brake pads and siding. Contractors commonly used asbestos products because the products were durable and extremely resistant to heat.
Asbestos becomes extremely dangerous when it is released into the air. The asbestos fibers can enter your body in one of three ways:
- Inhalation-The most common way that asbestos enters the body. If you breathe air that has asbestos-containing fibers in it, you can become exposed to the critical illnesses that asbestos causes.
- Ingestion-You can ingest asbestos fibers from drinking water.
- Through your Skin-It is very rare, but asbestos fibers that come into contact with your skin can pass through the skin into your body.
Out of all of the United States, Philadelphia ranks third for having the highest number of deaths for that 14 year period and they had over 14,200 residents that died because of an asbestos-related disease. Out of that number, almost 5,000 of those deaths occurred in one of the counties in Pennsylvania that was discussed above.
California and Florida are the only other states that had more residents pass away from an asbestos-related disease during that time period.