American Cyanamid Company - Company History
Headquartered in West Paterson, New Jersey, the former American Cyanamid Company, now known as Cytec Industries, has roots dating back over 100 years. Frank Washburn, a civil engineer, founded American Cyanamid in 1907. In the start-up years of the company, cyanamid—a combination of lime, carbide, and nitrogen—was the company’s primary product which was in demand by the agricultural industry for its use in fertilizer and by the mining industry for its use in the extraction of gold and silver. In 1922, American Cyanamid came under new leadership. William Bell, a lawyer, succeeded Washburn upon his death. With this new leadership came a new strategic plan to grow the company—aggressive diversification. By 1930, Bell had achieved success with his new plan marked by the 30 subsidiaries now under the management of American Cyanamid. Lederle Labs—what later proved to be the most valuable of these acquisitions - launched American Cyanamid into the pharmaceutical marketplace, result in the majority of the company’s growth over the next three decades, and served as a significant source of its profits through the mid-1990s.
The time period from the late1960s through the early 1980s proved to be tumultuous times for American Cyanamid due to decreased sales, overcrowded markets, labor disputes, environmental concerns, and the imposition of a large fine as a result of a government case accusing the company of attempting to monopolize the tetracycline market. Tough times called for a new strategic plan which would come in the form of a trend of turning away from the once-favored corporate goal of diversification to a new ideal of elimination of unprofitable product lines and a concentration on those lines that proved to be lucrative. The new plan proved to be a success as profits began to grow into the late 1980s and the company continued to focus on the manufacturing of agricultural and pharmaceutical products.
Preceded by a consolidation of its chemical businesses into a separate entity with sales of $1.1 billion in 1991, American Cyanamid created a spin-off company in 1993—the present day Cytec Industries. The following year, American Home Products acquired the remainder of American Cyanamid.
The creation of Cytec Industries called for the development of yet another new strategy aimed at growing the business. Under the leadership of Darryl D. Fry, the company focused its efforts on geographic expansion and the exploration of new business ventures outside of the North American market. Today, Cytec Industries employs approximately 6,000 individuals and maintains operations of three business segments on an international platform that include specialty chemicals, engineered materials, and building block chemicals.
Products Manufactured by American Cyanamid Company that Contained Asbestos
Widely used prior to the 1980s in industrial applications, asbestos was remarkable for its strength, durability, and heat and chemical resistance. Today, asbestos is remarkable for the adverse health effects that it has had on numerous individuals who were unfortunate enough to have been exposed to the substance and subsequently developed mesothelioma, a form of asbestos cancer.
Among the products produced by American Cyanamid Company that may have contained asbestos include, but are not limited to:
- Cymel 592 (a melamine-formaldehyde thermosetting molding compound designed for industrial use and appropriate for inclusion in auto and aircraft ignition parts, electronic equipment components, circuit breakers, terminal blocks, and switch gears)
- Melmac 405 Laminating Resin (a melamine-formaldehyde resin composed of layers of asbestos, canvas, or glass cloth, dependent upon the industrial application and end use)
Asbestos-containing products that were not manufactured by American Cyanamid Company, but that were supplied to the company by its vendors (Porter Hayden, GAF, Armstrong, Celotex, Johns Manville, Raybestos Manhattan, and Owens Corning Fiberglas) and utilized by its workforce include, but are not limited to:
- Brake linings
- Ceiling and floor tiles
- Pipe covering
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Individuals employed by American Cyanamid who worked on the premises of the company were at an increased risk of asbestos exposure due to the manufacturing of asbestos products, in addition to the presence of asbestos-containing products manufactured by other companies which were supplied to the company and utilized at their facilities.
Documented court cases specifically identify the following occupations as having suffered exposure to asbestos while employed at American Cyanamid: departmental mechanics, engineers in charge of piping, insulators, janitors at the plant, materials technicians, pipefitter's assistants, pump mechanics.
Individuals employed in the occupations cited above testified to having been exposed to asbestos in the following situations related to their job duties:
- Application or removal of asbestos insulation and or asbestos pipe covering
- Inhalation of dust released when asbestos-containing insulation materials were cut
- Indirect exposure while in proximity to co-workers handling asbestos-containing products
- Release of asbestos dust into the air when cement was poured into water
- Repair of pumps, autoclaves, and tanks resulting in exposure to asbestos insulation, asbestos block, and asbestos cement
- Work associated with asbestos packing, asbestos gaskets, or asbestos sheeting
- Work associated with boilers covered with asbestos insulation
If you have experienced occupational exposure to asbestos, it is important to educate yourself with regard to the factors that can determine how such exposure can affect you as an individual and what health risks are associated with your particular incidence of exposure. These factors include the source and amount of asbestos you were exposed to, the duration of exposure, the composition of the asbestos fibers, and the combination of these factors with any individual pre-existing health conditions.
Cytec Industries is currently named as a co-defendant in numerous lawsuits with approximately 8,000 documented claimants as of year ending December 31, 2010. These claimants allege that they have suffered a personal injury as a result of exposure to asbestos at facilities presently or formerly owned by Cytec or from products manufactured by the company in the past.
Cytec’s net sales for 2010 were $2.7 billion with reported net earnings for the year of $179 million.
Author: Tara Strand
Senior Content WriterRead about Tara
Reviewer: Jennifer R. Lucarelli
Lawyer for Mesothelioma Victims and Their FamiliesRead about Jennifer
American Cyanamid - The Notable Names Database (NNDB)
American Cyanamid - Funding Universe
Asbestos - The Environmental Protection Agency
Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk - National Cancer Institute
Cytec Industries Annual Report