As many hard-working folks that have lived and worked in Louisiana for a significant amount of time are aware, there is a chance that they may have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

The numbers are staggering. Many of the latest reports put the number of residents of Louisiana that have died from mesothelioma, a disease that is solely caused by long-term asbestos exposure, in the 800-plus range over the last 15 years.

Surprisingly, Louisiana maintains this above-average death rate resulting from mesothelioma despite the fact that it has no known asbestos deposits occurring in the state. In fact, the state has a higher death rate than most others that do. This is actually due to many of Louisiana’s industries that have employed the area’s workers for generations.

As a matter of fact, geographically, there is a slight uptick in the occurrences of mesothelioma in the central and northern parishes of Louisiana, where these industries were based, rather than in the New Orleans area where there is more of a service industry economy.

Of course, the exception to this trend occurred after Hurricane Katrina in Orleans Parish. Louisiana citizens were left with the wreckage of thousands of older homes that were destroyed by the massive Category 5 storm, and the asbestos in their floors, walls, and roofs was exposed and fibers spread throughout the area. Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish experienced similar worries after Hurricane Laura in 2020.

Louisiana Industries Which Potentially Exposed Workers to Asbestos

As stated above, there is a long history among those in Louisiana with long-term or life-long employment in the oil drilling, ship building, and agricultural industries. In addition, many workers had jobs in power plants, oil refineries, cement plants, and companies like Johns Manville in Ruston that manufactured insulation and once made asbestos products. Many of these jobs were legacies, employing multiple members of families and several generations of people. Often, these factories provided work for almost everyone living in places like Lafayette, and the nearby small towns.

Oil Drilling and Refineries

Asbestos was used liberally in offshore drilling rigs as well as in the oil refineries as a method of containing and preventing any possible fires that may have erupted. A significant amount of it was required for this task. Shell Oil, Texaco, Citgo, and BP Amoco are all oil companies that have admitted to placing their loyal employees in harm’s way by exposing them to asbestos, possibly leading to mesothelioma later in life.


As a Gulf of Mexico coastal state, Louisiana is also a natural fit for a location to build and repair ships. Of course, this is another local industry that has overwhelmingly been plagued with the mesothelioma diagnoses of former workers that were exposed to asbestos over a long period of time. The infamous shipyards included Bollinger Shipyard, Higgins Industries, Todd Shipyard, and Avondale Shipyard. Avondale, one of the larger shipbuilding companies, even had branches of its business in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Westwego, on the west bank of the Mississippi River in Jefferson Parish.


In 1987, there was a study conducted that determined an elevated rate of cancer among cement plant workers in Louisiana. This has been revealed to have been caused by the amphibole asbestos and white chrysotile asbestos that were both used as primary ingredients in all cement mixes at the time.


When speaking about being employed in the agricultural industry, we are not referring to farming, per say. This is more about the use of harvesting machines and the large agricultural mills where asbestos was prevalent. Several lawsuits have been filed in Louisiana against large rice mills, as rice has actually been a cash crop in the state for over 200 years, and the industry has employed a great deal of state residents. The employees of Louisiana State Rice Milling, Acadia Vermilion Rice Irrigation, and Abbeville Rice Mill, among many other rice companies, have long been exposed to asbestos and have consequently developed cancer.

Power Plants

Power plants, both in Louisiana and other states, as well as in countries across the world, have utilized asbestos to insulate against the heat and electricity that are drummed up by the power generators. The significant amount needed has been deemed a high risk, and it has put many employees in danger over the years.

Baton Rouge Industries Which May Have Exposed Workers to Asbestos

Within the many diverse industries that have propelled Louisiana’s economy forward in the last two centuries and employed a great many folks from the state’s labor force, asbestos exposure was prevalent, and it has led to many preventable deaths. For one example, consider the capital and second-largest city, Baton Rouge. As both an active shipping port and a major industrial center, Baton Rouge is known widely for its petroleum, salt, and natural gas processing industries.

Large conglomerates like ExxonMobil, Standard Oil Company, Kaiser Engineers, Turner Industries, and mainstays such as the Borden, Copolymer, W. R. Grace, Dow Chemical, and DuPont polymer and chemical plants, dot the landscape of the city and surrounding suburbs. The Shaw Group, a business with oil refineries, aluminum plants, and construction companies to count among its subsidiaries, also has quite the history in the area, and have long been on the EPA’s watchlist.

Like many of Louisiana’s larger cities and urban areas, Baton Rouge has a long legacy of heavy industry, commercial construction, and other manufacturing endeavors (such as paper mills) that became plentiful in the era when asbestos was not only used widely, but was considered to be a relatively safe material for use on job sites. As the state grew and became more populated, it was not uncommon to find the composite in homes and other buildings as it worked as a great insulator.

As a matter of fact, many people were dismayed and surprised to learn that asbestos was found in a New Orleans courthouse in March of 2021, so Louisiana’s beloved largest city is not exempt. The samples from the courthouse were first taken and analyzed in 2016, and up to 40 percent of those that were obtained tested positive for asbestos. The samples were taken from the ground and first floors, and employees that work in those areas became seriously worried. The local media reported on the story and many residents were outraged. How can this still be happening in the twenty-first century with the medical knowledge that we now have?

Asbestos left alone inside a wall and undisturbed does not really cause any harm, though it still is not considered safe to build with and its use in new construction is now illegal. That said, when asbestos is damaged or touched, the asbestos fibers are then released into the air, where they can be inhaled by those that work and live in nearby surroundings. Like the samples at the courthouse, this situation is a major cause for concern for the development of asbestos-related diseases in those exposed. Many times, an asbestos abatement contractor is hired to rid a building of the carcinogen without releasing the deadly fibers into the air, one of the major dangers of asbestos.

Mesothelioma Among Those Exposed to Asbestos

Louisiana residents that worked at the companies mentioned here and others in the same industries that worked around asbestos daily and inhaled its noxious fibers may have been diagnosed with asbestosis and developed mesothelioma due to this workplace exposure. Family members are also at risk since fibers can enter the home attached to the workers’ clothing. Mesothelioma is a deadly, painful cancer that is caused by asbestos fibers that lead to tumors that affect the lining of the heart, abdomen, and especially the lungs.

Contact a Louisiana Mesothelioma Attorney

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of workplace exposure to asbestos? If so, it is crucial that you speak with a mesothelioma attorney to learn about your rights and what you could be entitled to in a wrongful death or mesothelioma lawsuit or as a beneficiary of a trust fund for mesothelioma cases. At Landry & Swarr, we are the New Orleans asbestos and lung cancer law firm that will fight for your future by providing you with strong, yet understanding, personal injury representation. As your mesothelioma lawyers, we will never allow these companies to dodge their responsibility to you and we will get you the verdict that you deserve.

We offer free consultations, weekend and evening appointments, and we’ll travel to mesothelioma patients, if necessary. Give us a call at (504) 299-1214 or visit us at to contact us with your questions and for help with your case.

Disclaimer: This post is for information only. It does not contain legal advice and it is not indicative of an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Landry & Swarr, your Louisiana mesothelioma attorneys to learn more.