In 1948, the Gouverneur Talc Company began mining and milling talc near Balmat, New York. A subsidiary of R. T. Vanderbilt, Gouverneur Talc produced talc for various industrial uses, including the manufacture of paint, ceramics and plastic molding compound. In 1974, the mines and mills of the International Talc Company were acquired by Gouverneur Talc. These facilities were adjacent to the Gouverneur Talc mine. In 2008, Gouverneur Talc ceased talc production at its Balmat facilities.
Scientists have correlated exposure to talc mined in the Gouverneur area of Northern New York with instances of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases among the talc miners.1 Naturally-occurring asbestos formations exist throughout talc deposits in this region. Jefferson County, which is just south of the area where the mines were located and where many of the miners lived, has continually had one of the highest mortality rates for mesothelioma in the United States over the past fifty years. 2 Males in this community had the sixth highest mesothelioma mortality rate in the nation during a period in time when the Balmat mines were extremely active (1968-1981). The mesothelioma mortality rate for women during this time period was the second highest in the nation. Since the early 1980’s, the mesothelioma rate has increased to the point that it is now five to ten times the background rate. 3 Talc mine workers, outside contractors and residents of Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties are at risk of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer or other lung ailments related to talc exposure from the Balmat mines.
Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos insulation covered boilers, pipes and associated equipment throughout the Gouverneur Talc facility. Due to wear and tear, laborers removed and reapplied asbestos-containing materials. When workers handled asbestos-containing insulation, asbestos dust and fibers were released into the air and into the breathing zones of anyone in the vicinity. Most workers were completely unaware of the dangers of exposure to asbestos and performed their work without masks or protective gear. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer or other asbestos-related diseases.
Exposure to dust resulting from talc mining and milling put many miners and their families at risk for mesothelioma and lung cancer. If you or a loved one worked, lived or played near the Balmat mines and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.