By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia region is a hot spot for asbestos and it has been linked to high death rates.

Eyewitness News has obtained a report that’s about to be released. It calls this region one of the worst in the country for asbestos related diseases and deaths. The report comes from the Environmental Working Group Action Fund and it analysis asbestos related deaths around the country.

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It’s a simple sign with a scary message. The sign reads Asbestos Waste Disposal Site, breathing asbestos dust is hazardous. It’s in the heart of Ambler and is blamed for hundreds of deaths.

“He was 53 when he died, our children were eight and 10,” said Marilyn Amento referring to her husband.

Marilyn’s husband Joe grew up in Ambler and played on what were called “White Mountains.” They were actually piles of asbestos. The devoted father and husband died from mesothelioma, a lung disease caused by asbestos exposure.

“I never in my life imagined that my dad wouldn’t be with me every day and that he wouldn’t be walking me down the aisle,” said Julie Amento, Marilyn and Joe’s daughter. “I know I was in shock for a very long time.”

“We had a perfect marriage we were passionately in love,” Marilyn said. “Why isn’t he here? Like it’s just so unjust, he didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, he didn’t even curse. He was just a kind man.”

Asbestos, used for building and insulation, isn’t just a problem in Ambler. A report from the Environmental Working Group Action Fund says asbestos is a big killer across the Philadelphia region.

Nationally the death rate from asbestos related diseases is 4.9 per 100,000 deaths. In Montgomery County its 10.8, Camden County just over 12, and in Gloucester County it’s 14.5.

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“I’m not at all surprised,” said Drexel’s Dr. Arthur Frank, a national expert on environmental health hazards.

Dr. Frank says the high levels of asbestos in our region come from industries like the shipyard, refineries, and power plants.

“It is still unfortunately a legal product in the country,” Dr. Frank said.

Marilyn and her daughter are now helping the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. Mom often quotes a Bob Dylan song.

“How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died the answer my friend is blowing in the wind,” Marilyn said.

Even though asbestos use has decreased, the number of Americans who die each year from related diseases is not going down.

Eyewitness News reached out to health departments in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for reaction to the new report.

New Jersey says it has a number of projects to protect residents from asbestos. Pennsylvania had no comment.

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For more information on asbestos and how it could affect you, visit and

Stephanie Stahl