SUNY Brockport

In 1836, the Baptist Association of Western New York attempted to establish a college in Brockport, New York. After construction commenced, the Baptist Association’s financial difficulties caused contractors to foreclose on the building and grounds. In 1841, forty-five Brockport citizens purchased the foreclosed property. The following year, the same group of citizens founded the Brockport Collegiate Institute.  The early years at Brockport were financially challenging, but the success of its academic program eventually gained attention from the state government. In 1867, the institute became known as Brockport State Normal School, when it was named one of the first state-sponsored Normal Schools. The Normal Schools focused on training teachers for elementary and high school education. Brockport State Normal School issued certificates allowing graduates to teach in the State of New York.

In 1942, the Normal School changed its name to Brockport State Teacher’s College, and it began issuing bachelor’s degrees. When the State University of New York system was established in 1948, the college became known as the State University of New York College at Brockport. During the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, SUNY Brockport expanded and built its modern campus. New buildings were constructed as the college’s enrollment expanded due to the increase in the variety of majors offered. Currently, SUNY Brockport offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a wide range of academic disciplines.

Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos was incorporated into numerous materials used in the construction of Brockport’s campus. Fireproof insulation, pipe covering, insulating cement, block insulation, joint compound (mud), ceiling tiles, gaskets and floor tiles contained asbestos. Workers who handled materials that contained asbestos, or worked in the vicinity of those who did, are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma.

Asbestos-containing pipe covering was applied to water and steam pipes throughout the SUNY Brockport campus, and asbestos block insulation covered the boilers. Handling, cutting or disturbing pipe covering or block insulation emitted asbestos fibers into the air. Because of their irregular shape, pipe elbows and valves required asbestos-containing insulating cement. The asbestos-containing cement was manufactured as a dry powder, and it was mixed with water to form a paste. Pouring and mixing the cement emitted asbestos dust and fibers into the air.

Fireproofing is a process by which the structural steel of a building is coated with a fire resistant material to protect it from fire damage and high temperatures. Fireproof insulation was manufactured as a dry, fluffy substance, which was packaged in heavy paper bags. The dry mix was poured into a machine where it was mixed with water and sprayed onto the steel with a hose. The process of mixing, applying and spraying the insulation created massive clouds of asbestos-containing dust and fibers. In order to gain access to the structural steel, pipefitters, electricians, sheet metal workers, carpenters and other tradesmen routinely disturbed the fireproofing after it was applied. When workers disturbed the insulation, asbestos fibers were emitted into the air and in close proximity to the worker.

Vinyl asbestos floor tiles (VAT) were used in several buildings on Brockport’s campus. During shipment, some tiles were cracked or broken, which produced asbestos dust that contaminated the box. When a laborer opened the box and removed tiles, asbestos dust became airborne. Cutting vinyl asbestos tiles also emitted asbestos fibers and dust into the air.

At SUNY Brockport, asbestos-containing ready-mix joint compound was applied to seal seams between sheets of drywall. Ready-mix joint compound was commonly packaged in five gallon buckets, and it was applied without any additional preparation. After a coat of joint compound dried, it was sanded and another coat was applied. Sanding the joint compound emitted asbestos dust into the air, where it remained for quite some time.

Asbestos-containing acoustical ceiling tiles were installed in several buildings on the SUNY Brockport campus. Workers cut ceiling tiles to allow for lighting, ventilation, sprinkler heads or irregular wall shapes. Cutting ceiling tiles released asbestos fibers and dust into the air.

A system of steam pipes from the main boiler room supplied steam for heating buildings on the campus. Maintenance personnel replaced asbestos-containing gaskets used in pipe flanges on SUNY Brockport’s steam system. When a gasket was replaced, it was scraped off the flange. Removing and replacing gaskets released asbestos dust and fibers into the air.

Many union and non-union laborers who worked on construction projects at SUNY Brockport were employed by various contractors throughout Western New York. If you or a loved one were once employed as a laborer at SUNY Brockport and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, contact us regarding your legal rights.

Photo Gallery