Feds: Maine Has Highest Death Rate from Mesothelioma

May 1, 2009

A report by a federal agency says Maine has the nation’s highest death rate from mesothelioma, a lethal cancer linked to asbestos.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health studied mortality rates from 1999 to 2005. Senior epidemiologist Ki Moon Bang said 173 Mainers died from the disease during the period.

Bang told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network that some people may have gotten sick from working or living in old buildings that had not undergone asbestos abatement. But he said the state’s high death rate is probably linked to use of asbestos by major employers such as paper mills, chemical plants and shipbuilders.

Bang says the deaths are expected to peak in 2010, about 40 years after industries started to phase out asbestos.

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