Using asbestos for its heat-resistance, they were a popular brand choice during the 1940s when people frequently relied on wood burning and coal stoves and needed to keep these heat sources working efficiently for as little money as possible.
Their brand of products eventually branched out to include asbestos-containing products used for constructing and repairing homes. Until the 1970s, they sold asbestos-laden boiler coverings, wallboard cement, roofing cement, and furnace cement. Their product line was cost-effective and fireproof, but ultimately cost people their lives.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
People who worked with asbestos-laden Rutland construction products prior to the 1970s were at a high risk of becoming sick because they inhaled these materials on a regular basis with no knowledge of the associated health risks. However, construction contractors who do demolition work and people who work on remodeling homes might still come across Rutland asbestos-laden materials used prior to the 1970s.
Demolishing or deconstructing old building parts that contain the carcinogenic fibers creates toxic dust that, once inhaled, can lodge in the lung lining. Because it’s impossible to exhale all of these fibers, the carcinogens remain in the lung lining and slowly damage it over time.
Lawsuits, Bankruptcy, and an Asbestos Trust
The inhalation of asbestos-based fibers can eventually lead to asbestos-related disease, which ultimately landed Rutland in court over asbestosis lawsuits. Before 2000, more than thirty thousand lawsuits were pending against the company related to asbestosis injuries and deaths. They estimated when they went bankrupt in 1999 that the fire clay company would owe nearly $70 million for asbestosis injuries alone. The Rutland Fire Clay Company Asbestos Trust was established in 2000 through the courts to pay off claims related to asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Asbestosis and non-cancerous lung damage frequently occurs within a decade of working around asbestos-laden material. Mesothelioma can take upwards of several decades to be diagnosed, although people might have some symptoms like breathing difficulties earlier on. Once diagnosed, the prognosis for mesothelioma is poor. Some people have had to have a lung removed, while others quickly pass away from illness.