Durez Plastics in North Tonawanda, New York, was a chemical and plastics factory that once manufactured and produced plastic molding compound containing raw asbestos fibers. Buildings throughout the Durez facility were also heavily insulated with asbestos-containing insulation materials. Former Durez workers have indicated that the yards and alleyways between the manufacturing buildings were covered with asbestos dust. Asbestos dust was also present throughout many buildings where asbestos was mixed into molding compounds, contaminating the workers in the buildings and anyone working in the vicinity. At times, it was often so dusty inside the buildings that it was difficult to see across the interior of the production units. According to many workers interviewed about the conditions at the plant, there were some days that asbestos dust fell from the roof top dust collectors and windows in the manufacturing buildings, just like snow.
Air currents carry asbestos dust wide distances. According to industrial hygiene studies, concentrations of asbestos fibers have been detected in the air as far as one-half mile from a construction site. The best measure of exposure to asbestos in a given population is the prevalence of asbestos-related X-ray abnormalities among workers, as well as the number of confirmed cases of mesothelioma.
Tragically, the number of documented mesothelioma cases arising from exposure at Durez has been growing at an alarming rate. As of 1992, nine cases of mesothelioma had been discovered, with the first case showing up in 1980. As of the beginning of 2000, there were approximately thirty-three confirmed cases of mesothelioma, and now the total is closer to fifty.
The increasing number of mesothelioma cases among the Durez work force is a matter of concern for all Durez workers and their families, as the numbers go up, it is also a matter of concern for neighborhood residents. The plant continued to use raw asbestos in the manufacturing process through the end of 1978. Neighborhood residents recall seeing fields outside of the plant contaminated with dust, including Ramsey Field where little league activities were conducted in the 1960s and 1970s. If you lived near the Durez plant in North Tonawanda, NY any time before 1979, you may be at risk. You should also consider sharing this information with your doctor.