Asbestos has a rich history throughout the world, but part of its more recent history in America is focused on New York. While it is impossible to cover the full range of asbestos usage in New York in this article, we’ll consider two primary examples that can help anyone in any part of the state remain safe. Here’s what you should know about asbestos in the city of New York.


If you believe that you were exposed to asbestos, even as a child, speak to a healthcare provider about tests and screening to help diagnose lung-scarring and screen for asbestos-related diseases.

An Empire in the Empire State

Asbestos was once an empire in the construction and manufacturing industries. Known as a miracle mineral, this naturally-occurring silicate substance has an impressive list of durable qualities: asbestos is fire and heat-resistant, corrosion-resistant, waterproof, and does not conduct electricity. With this range of qualities, asbestos was widely used to strengthen and protect building materials and machinery used in production facilities. 

“All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans.” 1

The asbestos revolution helped make the industrial revolution possible (but not without its own costs.)

Due to its relatively low production cost and high volume capabilities in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, the era of America in the 1800s and 1900s was a booming empire with asbestos at the heart of it all.

Asbestos is highly resistant to heat, pressure and corrosion, so it was used in many products, vehicles and buildings. In particular, many workplaces like factories, refineries, foundries and shipyards involve high amounts of heat, and were built with a lot of asbestos.
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Exposure Site #1: Brooklyn Navy Yard

Asbestos enjoyed widespread usage throughout various commercial and residential construction industries, but one of the largest customers of asbestos insulation was none other than the United States Navy. When you think about the Navy, one of the most important tasks is to keep vessels safe and operational. Whether submarines, surface ships or naval aircraft, the most prominent type of protection necessary is fire protection. Onboard fires can be one of the most deadly situations for Navy vessels, especially when the goal is normally to remain hidden from opposing forces. 

“The overall evidence suggests there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.”

Source: National Cancer Institute (NIH)2

The answer to the Navy’s need for extensive fireproofing until the mid-1980s was straightforward: asbestos insulation. Insulation is a key material because it helps protect fluid and air piping systems safe from the rapid heat exchange that happens when traveling throughout the ship systems. Asbestos’ heat protection made it a go-to material for insulation products, and the Navy was the favorite customer of the asbestos industry. 

Because of this, you could expect asbestos materials to be found on all Navy vessels, making both vessels and shipyards notorious asbestos exposure sites. This includes the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is among the oldest shipyards in the country. 

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Shipyards are used for the production, repair, and overhauling of naval vessels, which means that asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing materials on vessels could become damaged, releasing asbestos fibers into the air and contaminating all the surrounding shops and support buildings. 

Unfortunately, this made both vocational workers as well as office personnel susceptible to exposure. Even if asbestos fibers were relatively kept among the vessels themselves, the support buildings throughout Navy Yards were part of the same tradition of construction at that time. In other words, virtually all buildings at Brooklyn Navy Yard contained some form of asbestos.

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Nearly every building constructed before the mid-1980s contained asbestos products and building materials.
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Exposure Site #2: World Trade Center and Asbestos

There’s no question that one of the greatest tragedies in the history of New York City is the destruction of the World Trade Center towers during the events of September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, the tragedy of that day lived well beyond September 11th. When the World Trade Centers fell to the ground, so did an untold amount of asbestos-containing materials. Since it was known to many that these buildings contained asbestos due to the era of their construction, there were some early concerns about the air quality of ground zero

However, because of mixed messaging from the EPA and the City of New York, many people believed that it was safe to be among the wreckage. Both professional and volunteer first responders took the initiative to look for survivors and oversee cleanup efforts, but this came with a severe cost. Many who were involved developed chronic health diseases and died from the severe level of asbestos exposure and other contaminants in the air

“Some asbestos fibers may bypass…your body’s natural defenses…and lodge deep within your lungs. Those fibers can remain in place for a very long time and may never be removed.”

Source: American Lung Association

Sadly, many of these people were simply trying to do the right thing without an awareness of the asbestos dangers they were being exposed to for days at a time. Others are only just now experiencing the adverse health symptoms of asbestos exposure since exposure symptoms and diseases can take decades to appear. In some cases, the latency of asbestos can be as much as five decades, which means that for some, the tragedy of September 11th and its relation to asbestos exposure will be a tragedy that continues for decades to come.

Compensation is available for asbestos exposure.

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Professional Asbestos Abatement

While these two examples are certainly large-scale examples of asbestos exposure in New York city, they serve as a warning to inform us about the importance of professional testing, abatement, and disposal processes. If you live in an older home or you are a landlord, asbestos exposure can mean legal liability for you if not handled properly. Rather than putting yourself in harm’s way, the best path forward is to use a professional asbestos abatement company for testing, removal and disposal of asbestos-containing materials. These licensed professionals have the equipment to keep themselves safe, and the skill to remove health risks from your home or property.

Sharing a home or vehicle with someone wearing asbestos-tainted clothing puts you at risk of asbestos-related diseases. 3

Don’t Risk Your Health When It Comes to Asbestos Exposure and Abatement

New York City has seen a trend in asbestos abatement, but there are many exposure sites that remain today, both big and small. While many people want to save money and time by removing asbestos materials themselves, doing so improperly can actually result in the spread of asbestos fibers into more places, not to mention the personal risk you undergo by putting yourself up close and personal with asbestos. 

“Generally, those who develop asbestos-related diseases show no signs of illness for a long time after exposure.”

Source: National Cancer Institute (NIH)4

It’s a risk that isn’t worth it, and going with a professional company is certainly money well spent if it means keeping yourself out of harm’s way. Best of all, a licensed asbestos abatement company can provide you with the documentation to protect yourself from legal liability, which also makes selling or renting an older property a much easier process. Future renters or homeowners will appreciate your professionalism, and they can rest assured that an older property has been professionally audited and abated, if necessary.


At AsbestosClaims.Law, our mission to secure compensation for asbestos victims is more than professional; it’s personal.

Our founder, Justinian C. Lane, understands the devastating impacts of asbestos firsthand.

Both his grandparents and father, all asbestos workers, passed away from asbestos-induced cancers without realizing their eligibility for asbestos lawsuits or other forms of compensation.

We aim to prevent such tragic oversights by informing and guiding victims and their families through their legal options. 

If you or your loved ones have suffered as a result of asbestos exposure, you could be eligible for considerable compensation. These funds could provide for medical treatments, asbestos removal services, and safeguard your health. 

In addition, asbestos trusts offer compensation without the need for a lawsuit, providing a quicker, simpler path to justice.

Reach out to us at [email protected] or (206) 455-9190 for assistance with your claim. We offer compassionate listening, clear explanations, and we don’t charge a dime unless we win your case.

Beyond legal claims, we also advise on veterans’ disability, social security, and employment protection like workers’ compensation, FELA, and The Jones Act for maritime workers. 

There’s no risk or cost to connect with our experienced team about your rights. Our commitment to your well-being means no fees unless you receive compensation.

For further queries or concerns about asbestos, explore our website and YouTube page, featuring infographics, videos, and answers to common questions on asbestos-related topics.

We’ve also introduced W.A.R.D., the Worldwide Asbestos Research Database. It’s the most comprehensive resource for asbestos-related information.

W.A.R.D. assists in pinpointing potential exposure scenarios, asbestos-containing products, and can indicate the types and potential amounts of compensation you may be entitled to receive.

1 IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Arsenic, metals, fibres, and dusts. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. 2012 ;100(Pt C):11-465. PMID: 23189751.
2 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.
3 Anua, S.M., Semple, S., Shakri, S.F.M., Safuan, S., Mazlan, N. and Asri, A.A.M., 2019. A review of the take-home exposure pathway of workplace hazards. International Journal of Medical Toxicology & Legal Medicine, 22(3and4), pp.13-19.
4 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.