E.J.’s asbestos-laden cement, insulation, tape, piping, and other materials were used in machines and industrial products that were marketed to industries ranging from airlines to photocopying to sheet metal companies.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Employees of the company, and machinists who worked with this equipment at other job sites, were exposed to these carcinogenic products. Many later developed asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases.
Many of them sued the company, and E.J. filed bankruptcy in 2000 to try to get out from under the crushing debt of these lawsuits. In 2001, the E.J. Bartells Co. Asbestos Settlement Trust was established to cover future claims. A few years later, the company ceased operations as its original company. They are currently back in operation under new ownership but no longer utilize asbestosis-inducing insulation.1
Patents from the 1940s show some of the ways E.J. Bartells Company liberally used asbestos-based cloth in machinery parts. Asbestos cloths were used for insulating pipes and other materials that would be exposed to high heat. These specially fitted, insulating covers were used to secure insulation in place.2
Many industries commonly used asbestos insulation prior to 1970, when the federal government began more closely regulating how much asbestosis-inducing material workers could legally be exposed to in factories and other facilities.
Although scientific research has now proven that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, most companies that produced asbestos-containing machinery parts were aware that they had been putting their workers’ health in danger.
However, they did not warn workers and frequently did their best to minimize potential fines and litigation by keeping exposure risks quiet.
They sometimes added ventilation fans or encouraged workers to wear protective gloves, but these measures did little to prevent mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis. People who worked with E.J. Bartells Co. machinery or parts between the 1920s and 1960s typically had no warning or adequate protection from disease.
Lawsuits, Bankruptcy, and an Asbestos Trust
These risks were highlighted by a 1998 lawsuit that awarded one family more than $4.5 million in damages due to a husband’s death from mesothelioma, which was caused by working around airborne asbestos fibers from 1955-1993. E.J. Bartells Co. was one of many companies held liable in this case .3 By 2000, the company had filed bankruptcy and soon after created E. J. Bartells Co. Asbestos Settlement Trust to cover future claims.
It can take decades for someone who has worked with asbestos to develop mesothelioma. The dust and fibers irreversibly damage the lungs, among other organs.