The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, recently reported that diseases related to asbestos exposure, including mesothelioma, have alarmingly high rates of attributed deaths in eight Texas counties.
The organization’s analysis of the mortality rates in the Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur areas – dubbed ‘Asbestos Alley’ – revealed that in some parts of the region, asbestos death rates are between two and five times higher than the average value in the United States.
The greatest affected areas are Orange County (23.9 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants), and Sabine County (22.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants).
The EWG calls these abnormal mortality rates the Golden Triangle:
- National – 4.9 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants
- Texas – 3.3 deaths per 100,000
- No. 8, Polk County – 11.8 deaths per 100,000
- No. 7, Hardin County – 12.8
- No. 6, Newton County – 13.2
- No. 5, Jefferson County – 14.8
- No. 4, Trinity County – 16.3
- No. 3, Jasper County – 16.8
- No. 2, Sabine County – 22.7
- No. 1, Orange County – 23.9
Despite these alarming numbers, asbestos remains legal in the United States. U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) has gone further, sponsoring legislation that would make it more difficult for asbestos victims to get compensation for medical expenses and costs associated to the disease – the FACT (Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency) Act.
The EWG estimates that approximately 8 million pounds of this material have been imported into the country during the last decade.
The FACT Act, if passed into law, will require plaintiffs in asbestos lawsuits to fill out burdensome, expensive reports. It will not only slow down the processing of claims, it will probably discourage many asbestos victims from pursuing legal action.
The EWG revealed that Koch Industries, Honeywell Nationwide, and Allstate are included in the list of major corporations that support the bill, which could be up for a House vote this month.
“We are incredulous that Rep. Farenthold would sponsor such a terrible piece of legislation, especially since he is no doubt aware of the toll asbestos is taking – basically in his own backyard,” Russell Budd, president and managing shareholder of Baron & Budd, a nationally recognized law firm dedicated to healthcare and environmental cases, including asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma, said in a press release.
“We strongly urge citizens to make their displeasure with the FACT Act known by contacting their state representatives and senators,” Budd said.