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The Asbestos Death Rate of New Hampshire Is Higher than the National Average

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on November 17th, 2017

Asbestos was intensively used on more than 50 job sites across the state before the '70s, including shipyards, power plants, schools, and manufacturing plants, which partly explains the elevated death rate.

It is estimated that up to 15,000 Americans die every year as a result of exposure to deadly asbestos fibers. Between 1999 and 2015, over 1,200 residents of New Hampshire lost their lives to asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Accordingly, the state's asbestos death rate is nearly a third higher than the national average today. The counties of Hillsborough and Rockingham are by far the most impacted when it comes to the number of asbestos exposure victims.

Cities Most Affected by Asbestos Exposure in New Hampshire

The residents of the following 3 major cities in New Hampshire were profoundly affected by occupational asbestos exposure:

  • Manchester
  • Portsmouth
  • Nashua

With a population of 109,000 and a rich industrial history, Manchester is the largest city in New Hampshire. Originally a textile manufacturing center, it was named after the great English city. A dam and a sawmill were built in 1722 on Cohas Brook, whereas in 1810, Amoskeag Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company came into being, which later enjoyed the status of the world's largest cotton mill.

Occupational Risk in New Hampshire

Every year, asbestos-related diseases claim the lives of 6.2 out of 100,000 New Hampshire residents, whereas the average number of deaths on the national scale is 4.7. Asbestos was intensively used on more than 50 job sites across the state before the '70s, including shipyards, power plants, schools, and manufacturing plants, which partly explains the elevated death rate.


Most components of a ship would contain asbestos during the last century, from products such as gaskets and insulation to boiler rooms and other high-temperature areas. Therefore, the health of shipyard workers was permanently threatened by the asbestos fibers they would unwittingly inhale.

A good example is Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, located on the southern border of Maine, near the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Specializing in submarine work and repair, a large number of their workers were exposed to asbestos starting with World War I, when the activity of the company reached its peak. In 1994, there was a massive contamination of the Piscataqua River with dangerous waste like asbestos, which was followed by adding the shipyard to the list of Superfund Sites.

Power Plants

Because asbestos is a material resistant to extreme temperatures, it was massively used to shield both power plant workers and facilities against fire. Seabrook Nuclear Power Station, which was built in 1980, is a suitable example in this respect, although asbestos exposure was not such a major issue as it was in the case of other companies since the employment of this carcinogen had already begun decreasing at that time.

However, before 1980, asbestos products such as pipe insulation, pumps, electrical conduits, and valves would commonly be present in the majority of power plants throughout the U.S. Even the floor and the walls were built with asbestos-containing concrete to reduce the risk of fire. With aging, insulation would become friable and start to crumble, easily releasing asbestos particles in the air. Ironically, what was then used to protect human life would later prove to have the opposite effect.


Teachers, as well as students, were and might still be in contact with asbestos-containing materials on a regular basis, even though schools are now required to have a management plan in place with the purpose of minimizing the risk of exposure. St. Paul's School in Concord is only one of the educational institutions in New Hampshire in which asbestos may lurk.


Due to the remarkable durability and fire resistance it has, asbestos was also very popular in the manufacturing industry. It was used for insulating equipment prone to overheating and present in the building materials of facilities. Industrial Pipe and Equipment Corporation in Nashua and Syintextil, Inc. in Manchester are two examples in this regard.

Job Sites with Known Asbestos Exposure

The industrial past of Manchester, along with the major renovation it has recently undergone, made asbestos exposure a serious issue and as a result, many job sites in the city were listed as entailing a considerable asbestos risk, such as:

  • American Locomotive Company
  • International Shoe Company
  • Kellys Falls Steam Plant
  • Telephone Building
  • Textron, Inc.
  • Manchester Traction Light and Power

Portsmouth, a city located on the coast of New Hampshire, in close proximity to the Piscataqua River, has a vast history as a busy seaport, as well as a prominent shipbuilding background. It is home to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and lumber, fishing, and shipbuilding were the main industries generating the city's income during the last century.

Since 1800, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has been providing jobs for plenty of residents. During the Industrial Revolution, the manufacturing companies of Portsmouth moved to cities with constant resources of water, so in 1877, the city included a single mill, a shipyard, a shoe factory, two breweries, and three lumber yards. As Portsmouth has a heritage of shipbuilding and a permanent preoccupation with conserving and resorting historic structures, the risk of asbestos exposure is a legitimate concern and should certainly not be ignored.

Other asbestos sites in Portsmouth are:

  • Atlantic Corporation
  • Eastern Oil and Rendering Company
  • National Gypsum Plant
  • New England Power Co.
  • Portsmouth Federal Building
  • Portsmouth Hospital
  • Schiller Power Station
  • Heating Supply, Inc.
  • R.B. Phillips Manufacturing Company

Contact Our Team of Asbestos Attorneys to Learn More About How We Can Help You

If you are a New Hampshire resident who worked at one of the above companies and now struggles with a disease such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, or pulmonary fibrosis, our professional team of attorneys and legal experts will do their best to help you recover the financial compensation you deserve from your former employer. Our compassionate lawyers have been deeply involved in asbestos litigation for decades. Attorneys at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C., will strive to provide individual attention, accessibility and best and fastest outcome for your case.