Owens Illinois began in 1929 as a glass- and bottle-maker. The company and its subsidiaries also produced Kaylo-brand asbestos insulation utilized for boilers and pipes through the 1970s.
Their utilization of the carcinogen resulted in lung cancer and mesothelioma cancer for many of its workers. Hundreds of thousands of workers began filing legal claims and lawsuits between the early 1980s and late 1990s.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Owens Illinois factory workers faced daily exposure to asbestos for many years. Dust and fibers circulated through the air at the plants, which caused employees to continuously be inhaling the carcinogens. Once lodged in the lungs, the fibers cause irreversible damage, leading to long-term and deadly diseases.
Although Owens conducted testing prior to 1950 that showed Kaylo’s dust was carcinogenic and caused asbestosis in animals, they carried on using the toxic substance and put hundreds of thousands of workers at risk anyway. Workers were not informed that they would be at risk of developing irreversible lung damage and fatal asbestos-related disease due to working with Owens’ products.
They had little to no protection from asbestosis-inducing materials, which they also brought home on their work uniforms to their families, unaware of the health risks of doing so.
Likewise, people who worked with Owens-Illinois insulation products in other settings were at similarly high risk. The industrial insulation, frequently purchased by other industries for use in boiler rooms, created a toxic work environment for boilermakers, maintenance workers, and others who worked within the vicinity of the toxins.
People like pipefitters whose jobs involved installing, repairing, and otherwise working with pipes insulated with Owens’ carcinogenic insulation frequently became ill with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or severe asbestosis from inhaling and ingesting the carcinogens.
The Future of Owens Illinois
Unlike asbestosis, which can show up on a chest x-ray within one or two decades, mesothelioma has an average latency period of 20 to 40 years. Thus, it is likely that more people will develop mesothelioma and more claims will be filed against Owens Illinois. People who have been diagnosed with asbestosis frequently are at risk for developing mesothelioma, but they might not experience new symptoms or might attribute their current symptoms to their existing asbestosis.