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W.R. Grace

Company Background

William Russell Grace was the founder of the W.R. Grace & Company, which was established in Peru during the year 1854. Grace later moved his operation to New York, and got involved in the political scene within the state. He became the mayor of New York City, and had the honor of officially accepting the Statue of Liberty from France.

Grace's company continued to prosper with two separate divisions: Davison Chemicals and Performance Chemicals. They produced sealants, cements, refining catalysts, fireproofing chemicals, silicon dioxide and many other items. In 1963 W.R. Grace and Company acquired the Zonolite Company and created its own Zonolite Division which manufactured fireproofing and insulation compounds. This division also sold and distributed Vermiculite for insulation.

Asbestos Containing Products Manufactured by W.R. Grace

W.R. Grace & Company manufactured products for about 40 years starting in 1938. Many of the products sold and distributed by W.R Grace contained asbestos, a mineral that was beneficial as a component within industrial products, but was later found to be extremely toxic for humans. The types of products made by the company ranged from surfacing materials, window glazing compounds, waterproofing compounds, cements, adhesives and plaster.

Zonolite products were used extensively by drywall installers, insulators and people in the construction and acoustical installation trades. Some of the more common Zonolite products were:

Additional asbestos containing products manufactured by W.R. Grace & Company (Note: some of the start and end dates remain unknown):

Product Years Made
High Temp Insulating Cement 1945-1971
Zonolite Cement 1938-1970
Ari-Zonolite Texture 1961-1964
Gun Coat Spray Surfacer ? - 1973
Hi Sorb Plaster 1973-?
Perltex ?-1973
Prep Coat ?-1973
Zono-Coustic 1959-1973
Zonolite Spra-Insulation 1960-1972
Zonolite Spra-Tex 1955-1972

Asbestos Exposure from W.R. Grace & Company and Mesothelioma

The W.R. Grace Company was found to be a gross polluter by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They became well known for illegally dumping industrial waste containing large amounts of asbestos at several of their facilities in Libby, Montana where they mined and processed vermiculite as well as in Massachusetts. EPA officials included the company as part of their Superfund Cleanup Plan of 1980. This plan was created to address the immediate need for cleaning and securing the most dangerously polluted areas in the United States, and suing the companies that were responsible for this pollution. Several of the Grace owned plants made the list, and the company was sued for the damages they had caused. A movie called A Civil Action was even produced about the dangerous situation that originated from W.R. Grace dumping pollutants into water reserves in Montana.

Exposure to asbestos can produce respiratory diseases including mesothelioma, a type of asbestos cancer that is known to have a low survival rate and short life expectancy. Our mesothelioma treatment guide and mesothelioma resources page provide more information about living with and treating this cancer that currently has no cure.

W.R. Grace & Company Bankruptcy and Asbestos Trust Fund News

A lawsuit from the EPA was by no means the only one addressed to the W.R. Grace Company. Not only did their products endanger those who worked with them, but their unsafe disposal practices also put employees and people who lived close to their factories at risk for exposure to asbestos. The company received more than 250,000 personal injury claims, and by 2001 they sought bankruptcy protection to escape their massive debt.

Before W.R. Grace could begin the bankruptcy process, they had to create a plan to establish a trust fund that would pay off all valid asbestos-related claims. The US Department of Justice investigated the company and found they had siphoned off several billion dollars to their subsidiaries prior to requesting bankruptcy protection, and they were ordered to bring back $1 billion that would be used for the trust fund. With this settled, the company was not protected against ongoing claims and legal fees.

Today the W.R. Grace Company continues to operate, and the trust fund officers review cases to determine proper settlement amounts. Several company executives have been brought up on criminal charges for improperly disposing of waste materials, attempting to cover up the pollution and then failing to comply with orders to properly clean up and protect the areas that were contaminated. People who live in cities where this occurred are still suffering from the effects of asbestos exposure even to this day. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and believe that you may have been exposed to asbestos from W.R. Grace & Company products a mesothelioma lawyer may be able to provide assistance. Simply fill out the form on this page to request more information.

Author: Tara Strand

Senior Content Writer

Tara Strand

Reviewer: Jennifer R. Lucarelli

Lawyer for Mesothelioma Victims and Their Families

Jennifer R. Lucarelli
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