According to the Environmental Working Group, Texas is above the national average for asbestos deaths. The Texas average is 4.9 per 100,000 people compared to a national average of 3.3 per 100.000 people. Asbestos deaths are most commonly due to mesothelioma cancer, a deadly disease that is a direct result of asbestos exposure.
The upper Texas gulf coast has been referred to as “asbestos alley” due to its particularly high death rate, which includes Orange County (23.9 deaths per 100,000) and Jefferson Country (14.8 deaths per 100,000). The higher rates could be due to industries that have a history of asbestos use, including shipbuilding.
Asbestos was used heavily in construction and insulation from the 1940s through the 1970s, though its use has been severely restricted throughout much of the world. When disturbed, asbestos fibers can enter the air. When inhaled, these fibers can lead to the development of severe diseases including asbestosis and mesothelioma.