In 1920, the Bestwall Gypsum Company constructed a plant located at 13550 Bloomingdale Road in Akron, New York. CertainTeed Corporation, a manufacturer of building products, including drywall and joint compound, acquired Akron’s Bestwall facility in 1952; and, in 1956, Bestwall Gypsum Company spun off as an independent company thereby reestablishing its Akron, New York plant. In 1965, Georgia-Pacific acquired Bestwall and took over its Akron plant and product line, which included gypsum board or drywall, plaster and fertilizers. Georgia-Pacific expanded its product line to include a variety of joint compounds and wall textures. Up until the mid to late 1970’s these products contained asbestos, including dry and ready-mix joint compound (mud), bedding compound and texture. Georgia-Pacific’s Akron, New York plant distributed its goods to the Northeastern United States. The plant closed in 1974, and the facility has been repurposed for a variety of commercial industries.

Up until the mid to late 1970s Georgia-Pacific incorporated asbestos into its joint compound and wall textures. Drywall finishers, construction workers and homeowners who erected drywall or performed home renovations may have come into contact with these asbestos-containing building materials. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma or lung cancer.

Joint compound, a plaster-like substance used to seal the joints between two sheets of drywall, came in two basic forms: a dry mixture, to which water would have to be added, as well as a wet, ready-mixed product. Asbestos was used in joint compound to strengthen the mixture and to make it thicker. It was also used to prevent cracking once the compound dried. Contractors and laborers were exposed to asbestos, through the application and clean-up processes of joint compound. Even those who worked in an area where asbestos-containing joint compound was mixed, sanded or swept-up are at risk for developing mesothelioma or lung cancer.

In 1977, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of asbestos in joint compound. However, the asbestos ban did not affect products already on the market, so it was possible that joint compound (mud) containing asbestos was used even after the 1977 ban.

Individuals who perform home renovations need to be weary of exposure to asbestos during demolition.  If left undisturbed, asbestos is generally not dangerous. However, when home or building renovations take place, asbestos dust and fibers can become airborne, allowing them to be inhaled or ingested. Even though asbestos was removed from Georgia-Pacific’s products by 1977, it is important to remember that many homes and buildings constructed prior to 1980 still contain the asbestos products in their walls.

The attorneys at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC have gathered a vast amount of information regarding the type and variety of asbestos-containing products to which our clients were exposed. Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, as a result of working at Georgia Pacific’s Akron, New York plant; in the construction field; or completing home renovations, we urge you to contact us today regarding your legal rights.