United States Gypsum History of Asbestos Use
- Years in Operation: 1902 – present
- Location: Chicago, Illinois
- Production: Construction materials
- Asbestos Trust: Yes
Prior to the establishment of United States Gypsum Company, there were 30 different gypsum rock and plaster manufacturing companies operating independently in the United States. In 1902, the manufacturers merged together and consolidated their resources with a total of 37 mining and calcining plants. Their primary focus was to produce plaster, which later branched off into other forms of construction products.
USG began using asbestos in their products in the early 1920s, and continued use throughout the 1970s. After the 1970s, the company faced a series of asbestos lawsuits that eventually led them to file for bankruptcy protection in 2001. In 2006, U.S. Gypsum was approved for reorganization and a trust fund was formed that began to accept claims in 2007. USG remains in business today, though they continue to face personal injury claims from those diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis and other conditions.
U.S. Gypsum Asbestos Products
The United States Gypsum Company began using asbestos in their products in the 1920s. Asbestos provided their products with durability and fire-proofing qualities, which was ideal for construction products. Originally, USG primarily produced plaster and what became known as Sheetrock. However, they began to expand their market after World War I and during the Great Depression to include a variety of other construction materials. Specific asbestos products that were popular from U.S. Gypsum include Durabond joint compound (1952 – 1976), Perf-A-Tape (1944 – 1976) and Red Top Structo-Lite (1920 – early 1950s).
After World War II, the housing industry was booming and the demand for construction products skyrocketed. As a result, USG became a leading supplier of asbestos materials in the United States, even growing their international presence. USG tapped into the commercial building industry, now supplying both residential and commercial needs.
United States Gypsum hired a laboratory to research the effects and hazards of industrial dust, including asbestos, in the early 1930s. Evidence shows that they knew about the dangers of asbestos cancer in the 1930s and 1940s, but never disclosed this information to their workers. The company also engaged in many marketing campaigns insisting on the safety of asbestos throughout the time when they were using the mineral in their products.
United States Gypsum Products Containing Asbestos
|Product Name||Start Year||End Year|
|United States Gypsum “Sheetrock” Texture||1964||1979|
|United States Gypsum Asbestos Felts & Covering||1936||1939|
|United States Gypsum Asbestos Paper||1936||1939|
|United States Gypsum Audicote Acoustical Plaster||1955||1973|
|United States Gypsum Bondcrete||1940||1943|
|United States Gypsum Ceiling Tile||1967||1976|
|United States Gypsum Cement Plaster Regular||1943||1947|
|United States Gypsum Corrugated Cool Felt Air C. Covering||1936||1939|
|United States Gypsum Corrugated Wool Felt Covering|
|United States Gypsum Durabond 90 Joint Compound||1970||1976|
|United States Gypsum Durabond Joint Compound||1960||1975|
|United States Gypsum Firecode Plaster|
|United States Gypsum Glatex Asbestos Cement Siding|
|United States Gypsum Gypsum Woodfibre Plaster|
|United States Gypsum Hi-Lite Acoustical Plaster||1950||1975|
|United States Gypsum Imperial Gypsum Cement Plaster|
|United States Gypsum Imperial Plaster|
|United States Gypsum Imperial Tape||1962||1968|
|United States Gypsum Oriental Exterior Stucco Finish Coat||1930||1973|
|United States Gypsum Perf-A-Tape Compound||1945||1975|
|United States Gypsum Perf-A-Tape Joint System||1945||1975|
|United States Gypsum Pipe Coverings|
|United States Gypsum Pyrobar Mortar Mix||1969||1972|
|United States Gypsum Pyrobestos PC Board & Stack Lining||1936||1939|
|United States Gypsum Range Boiler Jackets Pipe Covering||1936||1939|
|United States Gypsum Red Top Cement Plaster||1920||1958|
|United States Gypsum Red Top Firecode Plaster||1962||1969|
|United States Gypsum Red Top Gypsum Plaster||1920||1958|
|United States Gypsum Red Top Patching Plaster|
|United States Gypsum Red Top Plaster|
|United States Gypsum Rigid Block Insulation (Generic)|
|United States Gypsum Roofing Products||1937||1975|
|United States Gypsum Sabinite Acoustical Plaster||1935||1965|
|United States Gypsum Siding Shingles||1937||1975|
|United States Gypsum Spray Texture Paint/Finish|
|United States Gypsum Spraydon Fireproofing Plaster||1965||1971|
|United States Gypsum Structo-lite Perlited Gypsum Plaster|
|United States Gypsum Structolite||1950||1975|
|United States Gypsum Super Hard Spray|
|United States Gypsum Texolite||1961||1967|
|United States Gypsum Textone||1944||1975|
|United States Gypsum Texture Paint|
|United States Gypsum Thermalux (Generic)||1961||1965|
U.S. Gypsum and Occupational Exposure
Once the asbestos company had been using the mineral for many years, cases of asbestosis, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disease began to emerge. A majority of cases were linked to occupational exposure as U.S. Gypsum workers were diagnosed with illnesses as a direct result of working with asbestos. In the case of mesothelioma, symptoms can take 10 – 50 years to develop, so cases are still emerging today from their workers.
Within the United States Gypsum Company, there have been many trades affected by the production and use of asbestos. Exposed workers were not only those working directly for USG, but those that frequently used their products.
Asbestos Litigation Against U.S. Gypsum
Like many other asbestos manufacturers, U.S. Gypsum began to face a growing number of mesothelioma lawsuits. By the early 1990s, over 45,000 USG workers or family members of USG workers had filed asbestos-related lawsuits against the company. United States Gypsum was found guilty on most accounts, especially when their asbestos safety marketing efforts were taken into consideration.
One of the largest cases that USG faced was from the city of Baltimore. The asbestos manufacturer lost and was forced to pay $4 million in punitive damages and $8.2 million to cover asbestos abatement from a local police headquarters that used their products. As litigation costs grew, USG declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 25, 2001. On July 15, 2006, they announced a Joint Plan of Reorganization, emerging from bankruptcy and creating an asbestos trust fund to pay out existing and future claims.
U.S. Gypsum Asbestos Trust Fund
United States Gypsum trust fund claims are paid out at 19.2% of the amount requested. The payout ensures that the trust can accommodate future claims and applies to both expedited and individual claim reviews. Also, claimants should keep in mind that these payout percentages reflect base-level values. Claimants may receive higher award values based on a number of factors including age, exposure they faced, type of mesothelioma or other asbestos disease and firm’s settlement history. USG also has different financial compensation schedules based on asbestos victim diagnoses.
The USG trust also handles asbestos injury claims against A.P. Green Industries, another asbestos product manufacturer that was acquired by USG in 1967.