The company sold piping, cement, roofing supplies, and various compounds that contained asbestos to a multitude of industries, including the military.1
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
CertainTeed’s use of asbestos-contaminated products is evidenced by the company’s patent applications over the years. CertainTeed’s roof shingle patent applications reference the use of “minerals such as asbestos.”2 CertanTeed Corporation’s application for a patent for an automatic bag opener, a product that prevents dust from escaping non-sealed systems, describes that the apparatus “automatically opens and empties a bag of material, such as asbestos.”3
According to the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information, in 1968 the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted research on the results of air samples at CertainTeed. This study showed that workers were exposed to asbestos at the company in the “mixing, forming, curving, pipe finishing, coupling finishing, and epoxy areas” as well as the packing department.
At the time of this research, the exposure levels were thought to be low enough to be safe.4 We now know that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibers.
Evidence of Harm
Research published in the Journal of the New England Water Works Association explains that companies used asbestos-based cement pipes extensively in the 1940s and that many are still in service. Researchers warn that as these pipes show signs of age, removing and repairing the pipes can be dangerous to the workers who come into contact with the asbestosis-inducing materials because “fibers may be released through the creation of asbestos-containing dust. Asbestos-fibers, once released into the air, can be inhaled, which ultimately can cause adverse health effects.”5
CertainTeed Corporation has faced extensive litigation and fines over its use of asbestos-inducing products, which made many workers and their family members sick over the years. The Environmental Protection Agency has also fined CertainTeed and other companies for cleanup costs for asbestos-dumping in Pennsylvania.6
In 2017, an Alameda County court granted a $10 million judgment in favor of a 65-year-old man who was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma after working with asbestos-containing cement pipes manufactured by CertainTeed. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs based on evidence that the company knew of the risks but fraudulently misrepresented to workers that there were no health risks involved in working with the pipes.7