American Cyanamid Company was founded in 1907 in West Paterson, New Jersey and focused on fertilizer production. Cyanamid is a compound of lime, carbide, and nitrogen used in fertilizer. American Cyanamid soon expanded into the chemical industry, utilizing asbestos in its products and at its facilities.  By the mid-1970s, American Cyanamid had almost 100,000 employees and over 200,000 shareholders. However, American Cyanamid faced major financial ups and downs throughout its history, which led it to use dangerous toxins in its products. Asbestos was one of these toxins.

Company History

In the early 1900s, American Cyanamid’s products were utilized by people in the agricultural industry. However, as a result of World War I, which disproportionately impacted farmers, American Cyanamid’s sales decreased. World War I decreased the demand for fertilizer, but it increased the need for Cyanamid, which was previously supplied by Germany. American Cyanamid started manufacturing Cyanide from Cyanamid, which broadened its market as a supplier to mining companies. American Cyanamid also began to produce hydrocyanic acid.

American Cyanamid entered a period of growth in the mid-1920s. The company began to diversify and exchanged common stock for holdings in other companies. This diversification continued and in the 1960s American Cyanamid moved its headquarters to Wayne, New Jersey. American Cyanamid’s biggest divisions were located in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, while its subsidiaries existed across the globe.

Throughout the 1970s, American Cyanamid was often in the spotlight due to accusations that employee’s health was at risk from harmful toxins, as well as for labor disputes and environmental concerns in the company. In 1978, 1,300 American Cyanamid workers at the New Jersey Plant went on strike to bring awareness to the dangerous work environment. American Cyanamid also contributed to major environmental pollution. The EPA considers American Cyanamid among the top chemical waste sites in the United States.  In 1983, EPA added the 233-hectare facility to its Superfund list of sites harboring hard-to-remediate hazardous wastes.

In the 1990s, American Cyanamid branched off into separate businesses, including Cytec Industries which was acquired by Solvay in 2015. In 1994, American Cyanamid merged with American Home Products. This was the second-largest industrial acquisition in United States history at the time. Later, American Home Products changed its name to Wyeth Corporation, and in 2009 Wyeth Corporation merged with Pfizer.

American Cyanamid and Asbestos

American Cyanamid utilized asbestos in all of its facilities. Asbestos was used in boiler houses, as well as floor tiles and roof tiles. Further, American Cyanamid manufactured asbestos-containing products. Asbestos was a cheap and easy way to make products durable and heat-resistant.

American Cyanamid Asbestos Products:

  • Cymel 592 – This product was a melamine-formaldehyde asbestos molding compound. It was used in car and aircraft ignition parts, circuit breakers and other industrial applications that utilized high temperatures.
  • Melmac 405 Laminating Resin – This product was a melamine-formaldehyde resin made with layers of asbestos.
  • Fiberite – This product was a form of asbestos molding compound.

American Cyanamid also worked with other prominent asbestos manufacturers, such as GAF, Armstrong, Johns Manville, Raybestos and Owens Corning Fiberglass.

American Cyanamid workers are at high risk of asbestos exposure. Additionally, occupations such as electricians, engineers, farmers, mechanics and insulators are at risk of asbestos exposure from American Cyanamid products. The attorneys at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC have gathered a vast amount of information about the type and variety of asbestos-containing products manufactured by American Cyanamid. It is important to secure legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos at American Cyanamid, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.