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Kelly-Moore Paints

Kelly-Moore Paints Company History

Headquartered in San Carlos, California, Kelly-Moore Paints is one of the largest employee-owned paint companies in the United States. Known as “The Painter’s Paint Store,” Kelly-Moore was founded in 1946 by William H. Kelly and William E. Moore and maintains that its successful history is built on a commitment to quality products and personalized service. In 1952, Moore bought out Kelly, but chose to carry his partner’s name as he continued to grow the business. Kelly-Moore acquired Paco Textures Corporation—a manufacturer of joint compound and wall and ceiling texture products—in 1967. As several of Paco’s products contained asbestos, this acquisition would prove to be problematic for Kelly-Moore in the years to come as numerous asbestos-related liability suits were filed against the company. Today, Kelly-Moore Paints employs approximately 1,500 individuals and operates 163 retail stores in eight states along with major manufacturing facilities in the West.

Products Manufactured by Kelly-Moore Paint that Contained Asbestos

In the past, certain brands of joint compound and joint cement were known to have contained asbestos. Asbestos was used in these products as a means of improving texture, making for a thicker, smoother and easier to spread material. Asbestos was also incorporated into these products for its beneficial properties of being flame-, moisture, and heat-resistant.

Kelly-Moore used asbestos supplied to them by Union Carbide, Johns Manville, and Carey Canadian in their drywall compound manufactured by their Paco Textures subsidiary. The use of asbestos in this compound was discontinued in 1978. Kelly-Moore has maintained that the company never used asbestos in any of their paint products.

The following partial list of Kelly-Moore products were known to contain asbestos:

  • Kelly-Moore Paco All-Purpose Joint Compound (1960-1978)
  • Kelly-Moore Paco Joint Compound (1960-1978)
  • Kelly-Moore Paco Quik-Set Joint Compound (1963-1978)
  • Kelly-Moore Paco Ready Mix Joint Compound (1960-1978)
  • Kelly-Moore Paco Joint Cement

Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

Individuals employed in the construction trades, as well as homeowners conducting their own remodeling and renovation work, may be at risk for developing an asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma.

Asbestos-containing joint compound, primarily used for interior walls of houses and other buildings, was prevalent in structures built after World War II throughout the late 1970s. Those individuals most likely exposed to asbestos through the use of joint compound include the following:

  • Drywall tapers and apprentices: These individuals were responsible for mixing powdered asbestos joint compound into a paste which was then used for taping interior drywall in preparation for paint, wallpaper, etc. Once applied, the joint compound was usually sanded smooth prior to the application of the next coat. The sanding process resulted in asbestos dust being released into the air and eventually inhaled.
  • Construction workers and bystanders: These individuals could have been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers from joint compound by means of exposure to the work of the drywall tapers in addition to any demolition and remodeling work that may have disrupted dried joint compound.
  • Factory workers, freight haulers, and salespeople: These individuals could have been exposed to asbestos-containing joint compound (mainly in its dry form) during its manufacturing, packaging, transportation, and retail distribution.
  • Homeowners: These individuals could have been exposed to asbestos-containing joint compound during demolition, remodeling, and renovation work on their homes.
  • Family members of any of the above individuals: These individuals could have been exposed to asbestos by means of loved ones coming home at the end of the workday with asbestos fibers on their clothing.

Any of the aforementioned individuals who have either handled or been exposed to asbestos-containing joint compound may have inhaled airborne asbestos fibers which places them at an increased risk for developing an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma or asbestosis. Since there is an extended latency period with the development of asbestos- related illness, it is important to have regular screening tests, especially when a respiratory problem arises and potential exposure has occurred. While it varies for each individual, it can take anywhere from 15 to 40 years for symptoms to show from the time of initial exposure.

Recent News

As of 2004, Kelly-Moore was involved in 48,000 asbestos injury suits with estimated liabilities and legal costs of $1.3 billion. These suits included cancer, disease, and death claims filed by individuals who claim to have been exposed to asbestos in Kelly-Moore’s joint compound and other products the company once sold.

Although Kelly-Moore no longer adds asbestos to any of its products, the company does carry a safety information/disclaimer section on its website alerting individuals to the probability that asbestos may exist in structures built prior to 1978, cautioning individuals to not disturb or sand old paint or drywall finishing materials without first contacting local health officials, and disclaiming that exposure to asbestos dust can cause serious illness and/or death.

Sources
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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