In the summer of 2004, the University of Oklahoma found itself amid a media stir when asbestos residue was found in two buildings on campus. Although the hazardous material was immediately removed without subjecting students to risk, the countless employees working in Oklahoma’s booming oil, natural gas, and aviation industry have not been so lucky.

A state laden with oil wells and drilling rigs, the most at-risk industry for Oklahoma’s asbestos exposure is its lucrative oil industry. Responsible for pumping billions of dollars into Oklahoma’s economy, the oil industry in its various forms put many of its workers at risk. Whether involved in the direct processing of the oil in its crude state or using petroleum products and by-products, all components of this industry are high-risk. Asbestos fibers, once relied upon as a fire, heat and electrical retardant was used pervasively throughout these industries to protect workers en masse from heat and fire.

Aside from the widespread use of asbestos in countless oil refineries to protect workers from heat and fire, it was also reported that from 1900 to 1975, anywhere from 300,000 to 600,000 tons of asbestos were also used in buildings across the state. Used to insulate buildings, the danger of this type of asbestos exposure lay in its tendency to become airborne after breaking or loosening from other fibers at the slightest disruption or disturbance.

Take home or secondary exposure is another type of asbestos exposure which put unsuspecting family members and acquaintances of employees at risk as the asbestos fibers attached to workers’ clothing and hair and was transported home. Without even knowing or feeling it, workers and their families and friends would inhale or ingest the fibers, which would result in the development of asbestos related diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma.

It has also been established that in the latter half of the 20th century, three towns in Oklahoma received shipments of vermiculite, a natural mineral mined and shipped from Montana. Vermiculite workers have also been classified as high-risk occupations as the mineral could have been contaminated by asbestos, thus producing asbestos dust, which could easily be inhaled by workers as they worked with and applied the product. The asbestos dust also put many friends and families of workers at risk as the dust easily moved throughout communities in Oklahoma City, Duke and Southard.


Below is a list of occupations that put Oklahoma workers at a known risk of asbestos exposure. If you worked in one of these occupations in the 1980s or earlier, there is a good chance that you were exposed to asbestos:

  • Aircraft Mechanics & Repairmen
  • Brake Mechanics
  • Boilermakers
  • Chemical Plant Workers
  • Construction Workers
  • Industrial Plant Workers
  • Insulators
  • Maintenance Workers
  • Nuclear Plant Workers
  • Oil Refinery Workers
  • Petroleum Processing Workers
  • Pipefitters
  • Power Plant Workers
  • Shipfitters
  • Vermiculite Workers
  • Welders


The following is a list of the Oklahoma job sites where there is a documented use of asbestos products. If you or a family member worked at one of these places, you may be at a heightened risk of asbestos disease.

If you believe that you may have been exposed to asbestos at your own job, please contact a mesothelioma attorney for more information. There are many other job sites in Oklahoma where asbestos was used.

Petroleum and Oil Refinery

  • Conoco Refinery
  • DX-Sunray Oil Refinery
  • Gary-Williams Energy
  • Sinclair Oil
  • Sunoco
  • Texaco Oil
  • Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Corporation

Aviation Industry

  • Altus Air Force Base
  • McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company

Other Industries

  • BF Goodrich Tire Company
  • Bill Story Fire & Safety Co.
  • Blackwell Zinc. Co.
  • Eagle-Picher Co.
  • Fort Sill Army Base
  • National Bank of Tulsa
  • National Tank Company
  • National Zinc. Co. Inc.
  • Supply Officer

Power Plants

  • Cherokee Nitrogen Plant
  • Oolagah Powerhouse
  • Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company


Currently, the number of mesothelioma deaths in Oklahoma is twice that of those linked to asbestosis. For the years of 1979 and 1980, a study reported that 334 deaths were linked to asbestos in Oklahoma with 70% of those deaths resulting from mesothelioma. Most importantly, the study reported that a majority of asbestos linked patients were residents of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Despite the higher frequency of mesothelioma in Oklahoma, it is widely believed that the total number of mesothelioma deaths in Oklahoma may have been significantly under-reported due to early confusion between lung cancer and mesothelioma and the fact that the Center for Disease Control did not require the reporting of mesothelioma deaths until1999. Up until the beginning of the twenty first century, mesothelioma was regularly mistaken for lung cancer and reported as such due to the similarities in symptoms.


If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and you believe you were exposed to asbestos in Oklahoma, it is important that you contact a skilled attorney with experience in asbestos litigation. In addition, time is of the essence, because you have a limited amount of time to file suit.

We urge you to contact one of our mesothelioma lawyers for a free consultation. We can help you investigate the sources of your exposure, and determine what companies were responsible.