Asbestos Exposure in the Film Industry

This past February, renowned film director, special effects supervisor, and inventor Douglass Trumbull passed away from complications of mesothelioma. He contributed or was responsible for the special effects of films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture; he also directed the movies Silent Running and Brainstorm. 

Asbestos Exposure in the Film Industry

Although we know mesothelioma as a disease that affects workers of specific occupations (veterans, shipyard workers, and construction workers) to be exposed to asbestos, those occupations are not the only industries that have cases of asbestos-related diseases.

For example, film industry professionals are also at risk and have fallen victim to diseases like mesothelioma due to Hollywood’s long history of working with asbestos whether intentionally or accidentally. From the 1940s to the 1980s, many filmmakers leveraged old buildings and structures that likely contained asbestos insulation, which could threaten the cast and crew if disturbed.

Asbestos use in Hollywood was also included in special effects and decorations, like fake snow containing asbestos, movie set decorations, and even stunt gear. Some examples of films with this asbestos exposure include The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Le Mans.  

During World War II, asbestos was more frequently used in the military, and its overt use in the film industry dwindled. As we learned more about the impact of asbestos on human health, asbestos continued to be used less and less.

Although the film industry is no longer using asbestos in movies, that does not mean the risk has gone away. Decades later, there are still countless cases of asbestos-related health conditions relating to the film industry.

What About the Film Industry in Louisiana?

The film industry in Louisiana has grown dramatically over the past 20 years, primarily due to the state’s 2002 tax incentives aimed at attracting film and television companies. Even the success of Louisiana’s film industry caused the state to be nicknamed “Hollywood South” or “Hollywood on the Bayou.”

Louisiana’s warm weather and diverse locations have appealed to film producers across the country considering that the subtropical climate makes filming possible year-round without interruptions. In terms of scenery, Louisiana offers swamps and cypress trees, public and private college campuses, antebellum plantations, and urban environments.

While there is an awareness of asbestos exposure and its history in Louisiana, there should still be a concern when shooting in specific locations for films and television shows.  Even episodes of the show “NCIS: New Orleans” have been filmed in Avondale Shipyard, one of several places with the highest asbestos exposure cases for shipyard workers in the past. 

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one has developed an asbestos-related illness, like mesothelioma or asbestosis, it can be helpful to contact our experienced Louisiana asbestos attorneys to help understand the legalities associated with asbestos exposure.

Call 504-299-1214 and speak to one of our attorneys about your legal options, or contact us through our form.