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Based in Boise, Idaho, Boise Cascade has been a manufacturer of wood products and a distributor of building materials for the better part of a century. The company was formed in 1957 by a merger between two Pacific Northwest lumber companies: Boise-Payette Lumber Company of Boise and Cascade Lumber Company of Yakima, Washington. But the company’s roots can be traced back as far as 1913, when Boise-Payette received at least 172,000 acres of public lands granted to the Northern Pacific Railroads.

Boise Cascade grew quickly after its 1957 merger, and in the decade that followed it became involved in other fields, such as engineering, construction and real estate. The company entered the office products distribution business in 1964, and went on to purchase a majority share of Cuba’s largest electric utility. From 1968 to 1970, Boise Cascade even owned the Princess Cruises cruise line. But in 1974, new leadership returned the company once again to three main business areas: paper, building products and office product distribution.

Boise Cascade Corporation Company History

In recent years, Boise Cascade has been through a series of complicated ownership changes. In 2004, the publicly traded Boise Cascade Corporation sold off its paper, building products and timber divisions – including more than 2 million acres of timberland, five pulp and paper mills and 22 wood product mills in the U.S., Canada and Brazil – to the Chicago-based private equity investment firm Madison Dearborn. (The remaining Bose Cascade Corporation renamed itself OfficeMax Inc., after buying that office supply company in 2003.) In 2007, Madison Dearborn sold the paper and packaging assets of the company, but kept Boise Cascade’s wood products and building materials divisions – still based in Boise, and now called Boise Paper Holdings, LLC.

Today, Boise Cascade ranks as the thirteenth largest forest products company in the world, with more than 5,000 employees and operations in three countries, distributing wholesale lumber, plywood, roofing and siding products, insulation, and numerous other wood and building products.

Products Manufactured by Boise Cascade Corporation that Contained Asbestos

For years, asbestos was a popular component of many building materials. The naturally occurring mineral was highly versatile, durable and strong, and was effective at making products resistant to the weather, heat and fire. And because it was found in large mineral deposits in nature, it was easy accessible and inexpensive.

Like many companies in a wide variety of industries, Boise Cascade used asbestos in some of its products, such as asbestos sheets, until the 1970s and 1980s. Asbestos was also widely used as insulation in its dozens of paper mills, where the mineral’s fire-resistant properties were used to keep machinery and piping from becoming too hot.

Unfortunately, we now know that the use of this substance came at a tremendous price. Over the past several decades, the public has become increasingly aware of the health risks associated with asbestos. When materials made with the mineral age and become friable, or crumbly, asbestos dust is released into the air. When inhaled, this dust can cause grave damage to a person’s lung tissue, resulting in deadly respiratory diseases like mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis.

In Boise Cascade’s plants, a worker testified that asbestos insulation often fell from pipes, and workers cleaned the area by blowing the dusty pieces away with an air hose. No protective measures were taken in the cleanup, the worker said.

Products made by Boise Cascade that are believed to have contained asbestos include (but may not be limited to):

  • Asbestos Sheets
  • Boise Cascade Latex Coated Gasket

Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

Unfortunately, anyone who has come into contact with asbestos may have had his or her health compromised by it – even if they don’t present symptoms for years. People could have been affected by working in any of Boise Cascade’s plants where products with asbestos were manufactured, or where asbestos products were used to insulate pipes or other surfaces. Even if a worker did not touch the asbestos first-hand, he or she could be at risk if they inhaled the hazardous dust.

Construction workers, roofers, or any laborer who worked on a construction site where Boise Cascade’s asbestos-containing products were used could also have been put at risk. Homeowners who used the products in home repair products also may have been affected.

If you came into contact with asbestos, your loved ones could also be at risk, sadly. Asbestos dust is known to cling to clothing, shoes and hair, so simply handling or washing dusty work clothes is enough to endanger a person’s health.

Symptoms of mesothelioma cancer can take decades, even as long as 50 years, to begin to appear in the human body. If you or someone you know might have been affected, take the time to learn about the risk factors and treatment options today.

Recent News

As of February 2011, Boise Cascade has been listed as a co-defendant in numerous asbestos-related lawsuits. Plaintiffs in these cases allege that their health was compromised by working with or near the company’s asbestos-containing products or in a manufacturing plant where they were put in contact with asbestos dust.

Written By

Tara Strand Senior Content Writer

Tara Strand specializes in researching and writing about asbestos, raising awareness and advocating for a ban.

Full Bio Editorial Guidelines
Reviewed By

Jennifer Lucarelli Legal Advisor and Contributor

Jennifer Lucarelli is a partner at the law firm of Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney & Meisenkothen, specializing in asbestos litigation.

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