The Buffalo Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center was established in 1950 in order to provide medical care to United States military veterans in Western New York. Located on Bailey Avenue in Buffalo, the VA Medical Center is a 12-story, 199-bed hospital that provides inpatient and outpatient care to veterans. The Buffalo VA Medical Center is the main referral center within the Department of Veterans Affairs for cardiac surgery and cancer treatment in Central and Western New York.
Dozens of asbestos-containing materials were used during the construction and maintenance of the Buffalo VA Medical Center, including fireproof insulation, pipe covering, insulating cement and acoustic plaster. Workers who applied, removed or maintained asbestos-containing materials are at risk for developing mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Fireproof insulation was applied to the structural steel at the Buffalo VA Medical Center in order to protect the steel from potential fire damage. Asbestos was incorporated into fireproofing because of its fire-resistant properties. Fireproof insulation was manufactured as a dry mixture, and it was packaged in large paper bags. Dry fireproofing material was poured into a machine, mixed with water and sprayed onto the structural steel with a hose. Spraying and mixing fireproof insulation emitted clouds of asbestos-containing dust and fibers, which workers inhaled. Tradesmen, such as carpenters and pipefitters, also scraped fireproofing from the structural steel in order to install framing studs or pipes.
In order to decrease sound levels within the hospital, workers applied asbestos-containing acoustic plaster to the ceilings and walls. Acoustic plaster was manufactured as a dry powder, and it was mixed with water in a bucket or tub, in order to prepare it for application. Mixing acoustic plaster released asbestos fibers, which become airborne.
The VA Medical Center was heated by steam produced in boilers. Asbestos-containing insulation was applied to boilers, pumps, valves and pipes within the steam system. Workers removed asbestos insulation in order to access equipment during maintenance and repair procedures. When these procedures were completed, new insulation was applied. Applying and removing asbestos-containing insulation released asbestos dust and fibers into the air.
Many union and non-union laborers who worked on construction projects for the Buffalo VA Medical Center were employed by various contractors throughout Western New York. If you or a loved one were once employed in connection with the construction or maintenance of the Buffalo VA Medical Center and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.