Throughout the 20th century, Ambler, PA, experienced some of the most significant asbestos exposure in the U.S. Several companies across the city manufactured asbestos products and dumped asbestos waste into piles, leading many residents to experience asbestos-related illnesses and even death.
If you’re a current or former resident, understanding the history of asbestos exposure in Ambler, PA, is essential.
1882: Keasbey & Mattison Company Opens in Ambler
Ambler’s history with asbestos begins in the 1880s. During this time, Ambler was a booming industrial town due to its access to the nearby railroad and plentiful natural resources. These benefits led Henry Keasbey and Richard Mattison to move their pharmaceutical company, Keasbey & Mattison Company, to Ambler in 1882.
This same year, Mattison began manufacturing insulation with asbestos and experimenting with other asbestos products in the factory.
1896: First Asbestos Textile Plant Opens in Ambler
In 1896, Mattison opened the country’s first asbestos textile plant in Ambler, leading the city to become the leading asbestos manufacturer.
Between 1896 and 1930, the asbestos textile plant boomed in Ambler. Mattison built the Ambler Boiler House in 1897 as a representation of his company’s wealth within the city. Over time, the building began to decline, leaving asbestos debris and rubble behind.
1930: Keasbey & Mattison Begins Dumping Asbestos Waste in Ambler
By 1930, Keasbey & Mattison Company had begun dumping its asbestos-containing waste in piles around Ambler. These piles, eventually known as the “White Mountains of Ambler,” became symbols of the city.
Over the next few decades, these debris piles grew to contain 1.5 million cubic yards of asbestos waste across 25 acres of land. Children often played on these piles, and asbestos dust from the mountains blew throughout the city, increasing residents’ exposure to asbestos.
1970s: Ambler Residents Realize Asbestos Hazards
Keasbey & Mattison continued dumping asbestos waste into the “White Mountains of Ambler” into the 1970s.
In 1973, the Clean Air Act prohibited the sale of asbestos-based insulation spray. At the same time, the EPA initiated a plan to remediate the “White Mountains of Ambler.”
1986: Ambler Asbestos Piles Enter the National Priorities List of Hazardous Waste Sites
In 1986, the White Mountains — now known as the Ambler Asbestos Piles — entered the National Priorities List of hazardous waste sites. This list provided funds for long-term remediation from the federal superfund program. Over the next few years, companies worked to cap the contaminated soil and construct fencing around the site.
By 1996, the Ambler Asbestos Piles had become safe enough to leave the National Priorities List, but the damage had already been done. Thousands of Ambler residents had experienced life-threatening asbestos exposure, leading to mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
Unfortunately, many residents still experience asbestos exposure today due to contaminated materials in buildings and homes.
Halpern Law Firm Helps Victims Suffering with Mesothelioma
If asbestos exposure in Ambler, PA, or throughout the Keystone state has threatened your quality of life, the Halpern Law Firm team can help. For over 30 years, David Halpern has represented the victims of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.
We have offices in Allentown, Scranton, Johnstown, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Call us today at (800) 505-6000 for more information.
Page Reviewed and Edited by
Dave Halpern, Mesothelioma Attorney
Dave Halpern is a Pennsylvania and New Jersey mesothelioma attorney with over 30 years of experience. He has investigated hundreds of cases and won numerous multimillion dollar settlements and verdicts for asbestos victims. Dave prides himself on working tirelessly to help his clients in their time of need.