The Durez Plastics facility in North Tonawanda, New York was a chemical and plastics factory that once manufactured and produced plastic molding compound containing raw asbestos fibers as a filler component. Durez was also heavily insulated with asbestos-containing insulation material. Former Durez workers describe the yards and alleyways between the manufacturing buildings as being covered with asbestos dust. Asbestos dust flew all over the vicinity of the buildings where asbestos was used as a raw material, contaminating the workers in the buildings and anyone working in the outside areas. 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 would fall 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 rising 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 have reported that they recall seeing fields outside of the plant contaminated with dust, including Ramsey Field where little league activities were conducted in the 1960’s and 1970’s. 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.