Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, was founded in 1896 in memoriam of Thomas S. Clarkson, a local entrepreneur. The University was funded by Clarkson’s three sisters and named the Thomas S. Clarkson Memorial School of Technology. The University was officially named Clarkson University on February 24, 1984. Clarkson University consists of two distinct campuses, which include the Downtown campus and the Hill campus. The majority of the campus was initially located downtown and slowly expanded to the southwestern edge of the village, which became known as the Hill campus. Almost all academics and housing have moved to the Hill campus. Clarkson is currently a nationally ranked research university with an enrollment of around 3,500 students. The University is comprised of 46 buildings spread out between the two campuses.
Prior to federal regulations placed on asbestos in the late 1970s, asbestos was incorporated into dozens of materials utilized in the construction and maintenance of buildings at Clarkson University, including fireproofing, pipe covering, floor tiles and joint compound (mud). Workers who handled materials that contained asbestos or those who worked in the vicinity of others who did are at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
The fireproof insulation applied at Clarkson University was a mix of asbestos, cement and waste materials from linen mills. Workers poured bags of fireproof insulation into a machine, where it was mixed with water and sprayed onto structural steel with a hose. Clouds of asbestos were produced during the fireproofing application process. In order to gain access to the structural steel for other applications, tradesmen, such as electricians and plumbers scraped away fireproof insulation after it was applied. When workers disturbed the fireproof insulation, asbestos-containing dust and fibers became airborne. Most workers were completely unaware of the dangers of exposure to the asbestos dust and performed their work without masks or protective gear.
Asbestos-containing joint compound was utilized in the construction process of Clarkson University’s buildings. Joint compound or “mud” was used on seams and joints over drywall tape. During preparation, the acts of pouring and mixing the powder with water released asbestos fibers into the air. After the joint compound dried, it was then sanded down to a smooth surface in order to prepare it for primer and paint. The process of mixing and sanding joint compound released asbestos dust into the air putting not only drywall finishers at risk for exposure, but others who worked around them.
Steam was used for heating the buildings at Clarkson University, and it was delivered through a system of pipes. Valves, pumps and pipe elbows within the steam system were covered with asbestos containing insulation and insulating cement. Asbestos was used in pipe covering and cement because of its strength and ability to withstand high temperatures. During maintenance procedures on the steam system, workers removed asbestos pipe covering and insulating cement in order to access equipment. When the insulation and cement was removed and then reapplied, asbestos dust fibers became airborne and put workers at risk.
Asbestos vinyl floor tiles were used throughout several Clarkson buildings. During shipment, some tiles were cracked or broken, which produced asbestos dust that filled the box. When a worker opened the box to remove the tiles, asbestos dust became airborne. Cutting asbestos vinyl tiles also emitted asbestos fibers into the air, which workers inhaled.
Many union and non-union laborers who worked on construction projects at Clarkson University were employed by various contractors throughout New York State. If you or a loved one were once employed as a laborer at Clarkson University and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.