Areas of Asbestos Exposure
Use this map to learn where asbestos has been found or used in Hawai‘i. Many mesothelioma victims in Hawai‘i worked in shipyards or were members of the U.S. Navy. However, asbestos exposure also occurred in the construction business, power plants, refineries, sugar mills and the auto industry. Bystanders who happened to be present at these sites were also at risk. Even spouses, children and family members of workers who were exposed at work were put at risk when workers “took home” asbestos dust on their clothing and equipment. Beyond this map, many people who live in Hawaii were also exposed to asbestos through the use of products that contain talc. Talc is commonly contaminated with asbestos, and contaminated talc can be found in dozens of personal care products from baby powder to cosmetics.
Locate asbestos job sites identified by previous mesothelioma victims.
Known Exposure Sites
The following is a list of some of the Hawaii job sites where there is a documented use of asbestos products.
- Dillingham Shipyard
- Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard
- Vermiculite of Hawaii
- Ala Moana Shopping Center
- Hawaiian Electric Co.
- Kahe – all phases
- Waiau – all phases
- Chevron Refinery (formerly Standard Oil)
- Tesoro Refinery (formerly BHP)
- Hawaiian Commercial Sugar
- Matson SS Lines
- Pioneer Mill Co.
- Wailuku Plantation
- Kauai Electric
- Kohala Sugar
- Kekaha Sugar
- Big Island (Hawai‘i)
- Laupahoehoe Sugar Co.
- Yamada Transfer
- C and C, Inc.
- Honokaa Sugar Co.
- Hamakua Sugar Co.
Occupations at Risk
Below is a list of occupations that put Hawaii workers at a known risk of asbestos exposure.
- Aircraft Mechanics & Repairmen
- Automobile Mechanics
- Construction Workers
- Industrial Plant Workers
- Longshoremen and Stevedores
- Oil Refinery Workers
- Power Plant Workers
- Sheetmetal Workers
- Shipyard Workers
- U.S. Navy Veterans
If you worked in one of these occupations in the 1980s or earlier, there is a good chance that you were exposed to asbestos.
History of Asbestos in Hawaii
Asbestos was commonly used on board Navy ships up through the 1980s. Asbestos insulation was ideal for use on ships, because it was fireproof, waterproof, and an excellent insulator. Pipes, boilers, valves, turbines, pumps and other equipment were covered with asbestos block insulation, cloth and pads. Pipe flanges were sealed with asbestos gaskets and valves were sealed with asbestos packing. Both navy seamen and civilian shipyard workers were exposed to excessive amounts of asbestos dust during ship overhauls and repairs at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
The Hawaiian Electric Company used asbestos at all of its power generating plants. Sugar mills made extensive use of asbestos to insulate boilers, pipes, and evaporators as sugar cane was processed into raw sugar. Hawaii’s construction industry used asbestos-containing joint compound, wallboard, floor tiles, roofing material, siding, and plaster. Hawaii also has two oil refineries that used large amounts of asbestos insulation. Workers in these industries were exposed to excessive amounts of asbestos dust.
Tragically, many Hawaii workers also brought asbestos home on their clothes without realizing it. These workers and their families are at a heightened risk of mesothelioma.
We can help.
The U.S. Never Banned Asbestos. These Workers are Paying the Price.
The stories about the dangers of asbestos exposure are horrifying and all too common: mesothelioma, lung, laryngeal and ovarian cancer, and ultimately death. But despite the well-known risks of the dangerous and deadly carcinogenic fibers, the United States still has not banned asbestos. While dozens of other countries have outlawed asbestos, the United States allows hundreds of tons each year from Brazil to benefit two major chemical companies, OxyChem and Olin Corp. The companies say asbestos is crucial to chlorine production and that their protocols for handling it keep workers safe from exposure. But those workers claim otherwise. More than a dozen former workers from OxyChem’s plant in Niagara Falls, New York, told ProPublica that asbestos dust hung in the air, collected on the beams and light fixtures and built up inches thick. Workers often were without protective suits or masks and the dust collected on their coveralls and boots. The Environmental Protection Agency and Congress accepted the companies’ claims that workers were safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration let the companies into a special program that limited the frequency of inspections at their plants, ProPublica reported. OxyChem declined ProPublica’s requests for an interview. The company said in a...Read More
Recognizing Symptoms of Mesothelioma: The Earlier, The Better
According to the American Cancer Society, about 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed annually. The current consensus is that mesothelioma is an incurable form of cancer that attacks the mesothelium or lining of certain internal organs. There are three main types of mesothelioma to watch out for based on the location of the mesothelium affected: pleural mesothelioma, which affects the tissue surrounding the lungs; peritoneal mesothelioma, which attacks the membrane around the stomach; and the last type is located in the lining of the heart, known as pericardial mesothelioma. Each of these forms of mesothelioma has its own targeted set of symptoms to monitor. While mesothelioma may currently be incurable, it is possible to prolong survival and improve patients’ quality of life by managing their symptoms as long as they catch it early enough. The following addresses the types of the cancer and the question, what are the symptoms of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma’s symptoms such as chest pain, painful coughing or trouble swallowing, and shortness of breath can be expected for a disease that specifically affects lung tissue. Pleural mesothelioma may also come with unexplained weight loss, abnormal lumps on the chest area, or even swelling in the face or...Read More
The History of Asbestos: From Discovery to Personal Injury
Asbestos is a well-known toxic substance now, but the origins of its usage date back thousands of years before it was known to cause diseases like mesothelioma. Some countries like the U.S. have continued to use it in a lesser capacity despite this risk. The start of its use in other durable products such as pottery mixes dates back to 2500 B.C. in Finland. However, the first discovery of its toxicity did not come until 61-112 A.D. when an Ancient Roman scholar studied slaves who became ill working the asbestos mines. It would still take another 2,000 years before scientists would connect asbestos and the illness it causes. The revelation of the illness caused by asbestos was not made before the toxic mineral’s introduction to the American industry in 1858 when the Johns Company began mining it for use in insulation. The Industrial Revolution further fueled its production and use throughout North America, noting the first industrial asbestos mine opening in Canada in 1879. It was not until 1918 that the U.S. government would recognize the risk of asbestos shortening the life spans of those who worked with the material. In 1930, the illness known as asbestosis was discovered in...Read More
Mesothelioma 101: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Vs. Mesothelioma
When it comes to lung disease, it can be easy to get confused about the types of cancers and treatments available. However, mesothelioma and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are different diseases with different treatment plans, although some symptoms may be similar, and both have been linked to asbestos exposure. What is Mesothelioma? Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that typically forms in the lining around the lungs, although it can also form in the tissue surrounding the heart or the abdomen. As with any cancer, it can spread to the lungs and other parts of the body, but it is not considered a lung cancer. Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma. This cancer develops many years after exposure and has a low survival rate. What Is NSCLC? NSCLC is one of two types of lung cancer. The cancerous cells tend to be larger (as opposed to the cells in small cell lung cancer) and always start in the lungs. There are multiple types of NSCLC, which may dictate different treatment plans. What are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma and NSCLC? Both cancers cause breathing symptoms, including: Shortness of breath Persistent cough or coughing up blood Respiratory infections, such...Read More
KHON2: Woman Sues J&J for Mesothelioma Diagnosis
HONOLULU (KHON2) — The attorneys representing a Hawai‘i Island woman diagnosed with mesothelioma are suing Johnson & Johnson and Foodland Super Market, Ltd., for selling talc-based Johnson & Johnson baby powder which was contaminated with asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer whose only known cause is asbestos exposure. The lawsuit was filed in the First Circuit Court Thursday morning on behalf of Jacqueline Becker who was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in February. “Johnson & Johnson’s own internal testing showed as early as the 1950s that the talcum powder it marketed to women and children was contaminated with asbestos. The company had a responsibility to warn the public, but they failed to do so and now thousands of people are sick,” said Ilana Waxman, managing partner of Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman [and lawyer for Becker]. Watch the KITV4 video coverage here. Read the full article here.Read More
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