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Illinois Counties Along Lake Michigan: Some of the Highest Asbestos-Related Disease Rates in the U.S.

Asbestos is in abundance along Illinois’ shoreline and this can cause toxic exposures to anyone who visits contaminated areas. These areas have some of the highest asbestos-related disease rates in the country. These numbers are likely to rise as people who have come into contact with asbestos begin to develop asbestosis and other illnesses that can take decades to manifest themselves.

The Worst of the Worst

Johns Manville has had an impact on the region that will last for generations. The J. Manville Superfund Site is situated upon the south end of the lake close to Illinois Beach State Park. The site is estimated to contain more than 1 million tons of asbestos-contaminated waste and other pollutants. This material occasionally leaks into Lake Michigan. Studies conducted in the early 2000s showed that the site has released more than 22 million asbestos fibers per liter into the lake. 

Asbestos pollution has led to repeated closures of nearby Fishing Pier and other facilities due to the extensive levels of contamination. Similarly, homes that were located on the northern end of Illinois Beach State Park have been demolished and buried in the vicinity.  

Cleaning the pollution up can worsen the problem. When dredging is conducted, it stirs up the sediment and releases asbestos fibers into the lake. Similarly, many thousands of tons of dredged sediment have merely been dumped by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the US Army Corps of Engineers directly onto the shoreline.

Government Entities Hide the Extent of the Danger

Exposure to asbestos has many known health consequences. It can cause asbestosis, mesothelioma, and many other forms of cancer. Asbestos is a known carcinogen with a track record of pain, suffering, and death that is irrefutable. However, that hasn’t stopped state and federal agencies from claiming the sites along Lake Michigan are safe. 

Contrary to government claims, asbestos contamination along the shores of Lake Michigan isn’t getting better; it is getting worse. As wind and waves tumble debris, it causes fibers to break off and spread throughout the area. It will take decades, and possibly even centuries for the contamination to clear up and for the last of the trillions upon trillions of asbestos fibers to be removed. Until then, anyone who comes into contact with the waters of the lake risks coming into contact with asbestos fibers that can limit their quality of life and reduce their lifespan significantly.