The mining, milling and manufacturing industries are some of the most common ones associated with the risk of asbestos exposure. All three of these industries have long histories in northern and rural Minnesota, from taconite mining to Conwed’s manufacturing of ceiling tile using asbestos fiber.
The asbestos exposure risk in these industries, as well as in the specific Minnesota companies, are some of the most common. However, does that mean asbestos exposure was primarily an issue in rural areas?
The short answer? No.
Outstate and rural Minnesota are not the only places where asbestos exposure was – and, in some cases, still is – a risk. Asbestos was commonly used for decades in everything from household products to building materials. That use was not unique to rural areas. It was common in urban areas as well.
Asbestos could be found in various materials throughout both rural and urban areas, such as:
- Insulation in homes and commercial buildings
- Vinyl flooring
- Heat- and flame-resistant products and fabrics
- Industrial materials, such as machines or auto parts
Essentially, the risk of asbestos exposure existed almost everywhere in the decades before 1989, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued bans on most uses involving asbestos.
Where was asbestos exposure a risk in the Twin Cities?
The risk of asbestos exposure was not only common in rural areas but in the Twin Cities and Metro Area as well. There were several locations in these areas that put workers at risk, including but not limited to:
- 3M properties in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul
- Land O’Lakes in Minneapolis
- Several of Northwest Airlines’ properties
- Hamm Brewery in Saint Paul
- The University of Minnesota in Saint Paul
- Xcel Energy in Burnsville
- Koch Industries in Rosemount
This is not a comprehensive list. There are several other locations in the Twin Cities that put workers and residents at risk of asbestos exposure. No matter where you have lived, it is critical to be aware of the hazards of asbestos.