Founded in 1868 in Corning, New York, Corning Glass Works is a major manufacturer of specialty glass products. Corning Glass operates several manufacturing plants along the Chemung River in the city of Corning, and in towns nearby, such as Horseheads, Big Flats and Painted Post. Originally, Corning manufactured globes and lenses for railroad signal lamps; glass tubing for thermometers; and, other medical applications. In 1908, Corning developed Nonex glass, which was resistant to shattering due to fluctuations in temperature. Corning developed Pyrex in 1915, in response to a decrease in sales of their durable Nonex product. Pyrex was just as durable, and in addition, it was safe to use as cookware because it did not contain lead. Corning manufactured kitchenware under Pyrex, Corningware, and Corelle names until 1998, when it sold its consumer products division to Borden Chemical.
Corning Glass Works has made several important contributions to science and industry. In 1948, the Corning plant manufactured a 200-inch mirror for the Hale Telescope, one of the largest telescopes of its kind. Researchers from Corning developed the first functional fiber optic cable in 1970, which revolutionized global telecommunication systems by dramatically increasing the amount of information transmitted through a single cable. Corning Glass Works also manufactured the windows for every manned American space vehicle ever launched. Corning is also the world’s leading manufacturer of glass for liquid crystal displays in computer monitors, flat screen televisions and mobile phones.
Asbestos was incorporated into dozens of materials utilized in the construction and maintenance of buildings at Corning Glass, including insulating cement, block insulation and gaskets. Employees of Corning Glass Works also wore asbestos-containing protective clothing. Workers who handled materials that contained asbestos or worked in the vicinity of others who did are at high risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
During the manufacturing process, steam was utilized at Corning Glass Works. Boilers that produced steam for Corning Glass products were covered in asbestos-containing block insulation. When workers handled or cut block insulation, asbestos fibers became airborne. Asbestos-containing insulating cement was also used to cover pipe elbows and valves. Insulating cement was manufactured as a dry powder, and prior to application it was mixed with water to form a paste. When insulating cement was poured and mixed, asbestos-containing dust and fibers were emitted. Asbestos-containing gaskets were utilized in the steam system at Corning Glass Works to ensure a tight seal between pipe flanges. Workers scraped off and replaced gaskets during maintenance and repair procedures. The gasket removal process also caused asbestos dust and fibers to become airborne.
Workers at Corning Glass frequently wore asbestos-containing protective clothing, such as gloves, aprons, jackets and sleeves, because of their close proximity to molten glass. Even if workers moved while wearing asbestos protective equipment, asbestos fibers were released into their breathing area. Asbestos curtains were placed around kilns and furnaces in order to shield unprotected workers from high temperatures. When the curtains were moved or disturbed, asbestos dust and fibers became airborne.
Inhaling dust and particles from the application of asbestos-containing materials placed workers at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Even those who were not in direct contact with asbestos materials remain at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease. If you or a loved one worked at Corning Glass Works and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us for a free case evaluation.