Asbestos exposure occurs most often when people are exposed through the manufacturing processes used to make construction-related products. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for some very serious illnesses like asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Before the dangers were revealed to the public, asbestos was used in many of the products that were needed to construct homes, schools and offices. Asbestos is strong, heat-resistant, flexible and cost effective. One of its most common uses was in joint compound, which is found in nearly every home. This plaster-like substance is used in the construction of walls by sealing together the edges of each piece of dry wall.
One major manufacturer of a joint compound intentionally laced with asbestos is Georgia Pacific. That company began adding asbestos fibers to its “Ready Mix” line of joint compound in 1965, despite previous evidence detailing the fiber’s risks. Furthermore, the plaintiff’s assertion from a 2011 Supreme Court of the State of New York case, Skelly v A.C.& S., Inc., claims that “Georgia-Pacific failed to show that its asbestos-containing joint compound and sheetrock were not used residually in the marketplace after production ceased.” Georgia Pacific continued manufacturing this asbestos-containing joint compound until 1977, when the Environmental Protection Agency’s examination of this material began restricting its use.
Joint compound made with asbestos can deteriorate in several ways, including if it ages naturally or is sanded off and removed for the purposes of home improvement. However, sheetrock wall seams are also sanded immediately after the joint compound is applied and dries to give it a smooth texture and hide the seams. As the joint compound is manipulated in this manner, its dust fills the air along, with any other fibers it may possess, like asbestos. Once these asbestos fibers become suspended in the air, they can be either inhaled or ingested, becoming lodged in the tissues around the major organs, particularly the lungs.