Buffalo highest in state for asbestos mortality

Posted at 12:34 PM, Dec 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 17:56:36-05

The Buffalo region has the highest mortality rates in the country linked to asbestos exposure.

A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group Action Fund (EWG) found the rates in Niagara, Cattaraugus and Erie counties far exceed the state's rate of 4.4.

Niagara County is at 14.5, Cattaraugus is at 11.6, and Erie is at 8.1.

"You'll see often times they are in areas where there was a large manufacturing and industrial footprint," said Alex Formuzis. "Asbestos was used in the production of cars and automobile parts."

Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna used asbestos during the manufacturing process and it's still used today but on a much smaller scale.

"It is not illegal to use it. It's not mined in the United States anymore but it's still brought in," said Formuzis. 

According to local health officials the average person isn't at risk.

"If the material is not in a condition that would become airborne, crumbly and dusty then your risk of exposure is extremely low," said Paul Dicky the director of environmental health with the Niagara County Health Department.

The Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein agrees with Dicky.

"As long as it's in tact and it's not being disturbed, it's safe," said Burstein.

For a full look at the study click here.




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