By the Second World War, they had gotten into boiler lining, utilizing asbestos for military ships. From there, they diversified further to include plastic making, synthetic fiber making, and solvent making. By 1990, they were making protective sealants and cement but had stopped utilizing asbestos.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Combustion Engineering’s asbestos-laden product line included insulation, cement, joint materials, adhesives, rope, boiler parts, and finishing and protective coating products.
These carcinogenic materials had the potential to cause mesothelioma cancers in people who worked across many industries, including the military, boiler making, construction, contracting, steel, iron, railroad, textile, insulation, and petrochemical plant work.
Working around these materials often caused asbestosis and mesothelioma because people who worked with these materials would inhale and ingest asbestos dust and fibers.
Unlike asbestosis, which can show symptoms within ten years of exposure, mesothelioma typically takes two or more decades for symptoms to appear. Those diagnosed with the disease might already have asbestosis symptoms, but the symptoms may worsen rapidly.
Sometimes a routine chest x-ray without severe symptoms will lead a doctor to discover that a person has this type of cancer, which, once diagnosed, usually comes with a poor prognosis. The disease is directly linked to asbestos exposure, although the person did not necessarily have to work around asbestos-laden products.
In some cases, workers brought asbestos fibers home to their families on their uniforms. Doing a husband’s laundry has proven to be a common way that wives contracted secondhand mesothelioma, according to many lawsuits filed against companies like Combustion Engineering.
A New Name, Lawsuits, Bankruptcy and an Asbestos Trust
Asea Brown Boveri (ABB Group) bought out the company in 1990. ABB became responsible for paying out millions of dollars to people who had become ill with mesothelioma and lung cancer due to Combustion Engineering’s former line of asbestosis-inducing materials. By 2002, ABB had gone bankrupt and was paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars toward claim settlements. Combustion Engineering Asbestos PI Trust, which contained more than a billion dollars allocated to pay future claims, was established in 2006.
Most companies that utilized asbestos-laden materials through the 1980s were well aware of the dangers to workers but neglected to put warnings on their products or enforce safety standards in the workplace. While ABB did not utilize asbestos-based materials once it took over CE in the 1990s, these materials were still used in the industries they sold their products to long after production ceased. Those whose construction jobs, boiler work, or other exposure to ABB or CE products occurred after the 1980s could still file a proof of claim through the trust.1