Jump to main content.

Bethlehem Asbestos


This Industry Profile Fact Sheet is presented by the Environmental Protection Agency, Region III (EPA) to assist state, local, and municipal agencies, and private groups in the initial planning and evaluation of sites being considered for remediation, redevelopment or reuse. It is intended to provide a general description of site conditions and contaminants which may be encountered at specific industrial facilities. This fact sheet is presented for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a federal policy or directive.


Bethlehem Mines Corporation's Grace Mine is located in Joanna, Berks County, PA. Fugitive dust emission was a problem for the corporation since 1977. It was also anticipated that the dust contained asbestos. In 1977, following an inquiry by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER), Bethlehem Mine provided information that analytical from sampling events showed the presence of asbestos in air and water.

In 1985 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was on site in response to a request from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH). At the end of the response it was concluded that the effort by the responsible party to cover and vegetate the exposed portion of the site had not been effective.


The main contaminant found at tailing mines of this type is asbestos, which can be found in airborne dust, in soil, and in water.


On-site asbestos piles contain asbestos containing material (ACM), which is defined as any material containing asbestos more than one percent. The common forms of asbestos found in typical ACM pile are Chrysotile, Amosite, and Crocidolite. Other forms of asbestos which can also be present in small quantities in a pile are Anthophyllite, Tremolite, and Actinolite. Asbestos is a direct inhalation hazard to humans. Potential health effects of asbestos exposure include asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other cancer disorders.


The most common type of asbestos (such as Chrysotile, Amosite, and Crocidolite) can not be distinguished by visual observation. Presence of asbestos cannot be determined without sampling and laboratory analysis. Bulk samples from an asbestos pile must be analyzed in a laboratory accredited by the National Bureau of Standards (or EPA in the interim), utilizing the polarized light microscopy (PLM) method.

Samples should be collected from air, soil and water; however, it should be noted during sampling that the solubility of asbestos in water is negligible.


Percentage of asbestos present in air, soil and water should be calculated from the analysis.

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.