Over the course of the last two years, many more of our clients have lost family members and friends to cancer resulting from asbestos exposure at the former Durez Plastics in North Tonawanda. The first death at Durez from mesothelioma was reported in the early 1980s. Since that time there have been close to fifty. There have also been dozens of deaths due to lung cancer and asbestosis.

Durez was established in 1926 and soon became a leader in the production of plastic molding compounds. Unfortunately for its employees and for the residents of the area surrounding the plant on Walck Road, Durez began to employ raw asbestos fiber as a filler to strengthen its molding compound products, and the process of adding the raw asbestos to the mixes caused the harmful dust to become airborne and to spread around the plant and onto the neighboring lots.

The period of time between first exposure to asbestos dust and the onset of disease – whether mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis – is typically between 15 and 50 years. Durez continued using asbestos until the end of 1978 and closed its facility in North Tonawanda in 1994. It is no surprise that new cases of serious and often fatal disease continue to develop.

The risk of contracting mesothelioma is not confined to employees – it also extends to their immediate families. This is because asbestos fibers are extremely small and light and are capable of being transported home on a worker’s clothing, hair and footwear. Even the relatively slight exposure involved in shaking out work clothes before doing the laundry is enough to result in mesothelioma decades later.

Medical literature contains many examples of housewives contracting mesothelioma by washing work clothes. We also know from experience that occasionally, but rarely, a child will contract mesothelioma as a result of household contamination originating from the workplace. Also, in many families connected to Durez Plastics, the older children obtained summer jobs at the plant, especially in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, further increasing the long-term risk of disease.

The attorneys at Lipsitz & Ponterio have been representing former and retired Durez workers and their families since 1985. We are very knowledgeable about the purchase and use of asbestos in all of its forms, including raw asbestos, solid-state insulation and gaskets.

We vigorously pursue claims of asbestos disease on behalf of our clients, we sue the companies responsible for supplying asbestos to the plant, and we file death claims in workers’ compensation court for widows and their families.

Because many of you have close friends and relatives who have moved away from the Western New York area but who are still at risk of disease due to their past association with Durez Plastics, we urge you to share this newsletter with them. If you would like to add the name of a friend or relative to our newsletter list, please let us know by contacting Mary Marsowicz at 849-0701.