St. Lawrence University was founded on April 3, 1856, by leaders of the Universalist Church seeking to establish a seminary. Beginning in the 1940s, the original four building campus expanded to include thirty buildings in order to accommodate its growing student population. The University is currently a non-denominational, private institution, which sits on 1,000 acres in Canton, New York. The campus serves 2,400 graduate and undergraduate students.
In recent years, laborers who assisted in the construction and maintenance of the buildings at St. Lawrence University have developed and died of mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos-containing materials were utilized throughout the St. Lawrence campus. Asbestos was incorporated into many materials because of its durability and resistance to heat. 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.
Fireproofers who applied asbestos-containing fireproofing materials, are at high risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer. Fireproof insulation is a mix of asbestos, cement and waste materials from linen mills. Fireproof insulation was packaged in bags and then dumped into a machine, mixed with water and sprayed onto steel using a hose. Fireproofing is a process by which structural steel is coated with fire resistant insulation to protect it from extreme heat. The fireproof insulation used during the construction of buildings throughout the St. Lawrence campus contained asbestos. During the fireproofing process, clouds of asbestos-containing dust filled the air. Fireproofers and those who worked by their side are at high risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma.
Asbestos-containing joint compound (mud) was also used during the construction of St. Lawrence University. Joint compound or mud, was used to fill seams and joints between sheets of drywall. After each layer of mud dried, it was sanded down to a smooth surface for painting. Asbestos fibers became airborne during both the mixing of asbestos joint compound and the sanding process. The release of asbestos dust fibers into the air put not only drywall finishers and plasterers at risk for exposure, but others who worked in the same vicinity.
Buildings throughout the St. Lawrence campus were heated by steam produced in numerous boilers. Steam was transported from the boilers to the buildings through a system of pipes. Pipes, valves, pumps and boilers in the steam system were typically covered in asbestos-containing insulation. When maintenance or repairs were performed on the steam system, asbestos insulation was removed in order to access the equipment. When maintenance or repair work was completed, new asbestos insulation was applied. Removing and applying pipe covering, insulating cement and block insulation caused asbestos dust to become airborne, which workers inhaled. Most workers were unaware of the dangers of exposure to asbestos dust and performed their work without necessary protective gear.
Many union and non-union laborers who worked on construction projects at St. Lawrence University were employed by various contractors throughout Central and Western New York. If you or a loved one were once employed as a laborer at St. Lawrence University and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.