Products Manufactured by United States Mineral Products Company that Contained Asbetsos
From 1954 until the early 1970s, the U.S. Mineral Products Company used a naturally occurring mineral named asbestos in some of its fireproofing products. Asbestos – the name for any of six fibrous minerals made of long, crystalline fibers – had been lauded as a “miracle mineral” since the late 1800s because of its excellent heat- and fire-resistant qualities and because it was so versatile, durable and plentiful in nature. Because of these characteristics, the mineral was used in a wide variety of consumer and industrial products throughout much of the 20th century.
As the decades progressed, however, experts and people who worked with the substance came to learn that the mineral is also extremely hazardous to human health. When asbestos products are manufactured, or when they age and begin to break down, the mineral’s long fibers are released into the air. When they are inhaled, they can become embedded in a person’s lung tissue and cause permanent lung damage. Eventually, exposure to asbestos can cause deadly diseases like asbestosis, a chronic and progressive inflammation of the lungs, and mesothelioma, a rare and inoperable type of lung cancer.
U.S. Mineral products that were manufactured with asbestos include, but are not limited to:
|Cafco Heat Shield||1958-1971|
|Cafco Blaze-Shield Type D||1958-1971|
|Cominco||1961 – ?|
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
U.S. Minerals creates products used in fireproofing buildings – that is, sprays, plasters or pressed sheets applied to structures or materials to make them more resistant to fire. Individuals who applied or worked in close proximity to these products at construction sites in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s may have been exposed to harmful asbestos fibers. Construction workers, fireproofers, inspectors, cement masons, engineers and architects are just a few occupations that could have been affected. U.S. Minerals products could have posed a hazard for years after 1971, when the company stopped using asbestos; when demolition or repair projects take place, old asbestos dust that had laid dormant in buildings’ infrastructures for years is once again kicked into the air.
Faced with a large number of lawsuits from people who claimed their health was damaged by U.S. Mineral’s asbestos-containing products, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2001. As of that date, the company reportedly had received over 223,000 asbestos claims; 165,000 of those were pending. The company has since set up a trust to pay for future asbestos-related claims.