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Asbestos in Brick

Bricklayers and stonemasons are at significantly higher risk for developing mesothelioma and other related illnesses due to daily occupational exposure to asbestos in brick. They may be eligible for compensation for medical bills and other expenses from employers who knowingly exposed them to asbestos without taking appropriate safety precautions. If you or a family member been diagnosed with mesothelioma following asbestos exposure to bricks, contact the team at Lanier Law Firm to learn more about your options.

People who worked with asbestos in bricks are more likely to develop a type of cancer called mesothelioma, even decades after the exposure. Eighty percent of mesothelioma patients have a known history of exposure to asbestos. If you or a family member worked as a bricklayer or stonemason before the 1980s or currently works renovating homes or businesses built before that time, you might not even realize that you’ve been exposed to unsafe levels of asbestos. 

A mesothelioma diagnosis can be emotionally and financially devastating. Medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering are life-changing for patients and their families. You may be entitled to compensation for workplace exposure to asbestos bricks. The team at Lanier Law Firm has a proven track record when it comes to assisting those who were exposed to asbestos. With offices in Houston, New York, and Los Angeles, let our experience work for you.

When was asbestos used in bricks?

The practice of using asbestos to manufacture bricks and brick mortar began in the early 1900s and continued through 1980. Known for its light weight, strength, insulating properties, and ability to hold up under extreme heat, asbestos was favored in the construction industry. Relatively inexpensive and readily available, so asbestos was used in everything from flooring to siding.

Asbestos firebricks were especially popular in fireplace construction and were used to make fireboxes, flues, and chimneys for many years. The Environmental Protection Agency began restricting the use of asbestos in the United States in the 1970s.

brick worker

Why are asbestos bricks dangerous?

Studies have found that bricklayers are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other health conditions due to occupational exposure to asbestos in bricks. Used in the manufacturing of bricks and brick mortar, asbestos becomes dangerous when the products are broken apart, causing microscopic particles of asbestos to enter the air, where they are easily inhaled or ingested. Fibers from broken bricks or disturbed brick compounds can become lodged in the lining of the lungs, leading to a condition known as asbestosis or scarring of the lungs. Over time, inflammation from asbestos can also damage the lining of the lungs or other organs, causing cancer in the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.

How was asbestos used in brick construction?

Along with brick manufacturing, asbestos was mixed with cement powder to create a bonding agent that could be used between bricks or stones to strengthen walls and structures and prevent fire and water damage to buildings. This practice was so common that brick mortar applied between 1920 and 1980 would almost without question have contained asbestos. Typical places where brick or brick mortar were used include:

  • masonry walls
  • foundations
  • residential or commercial building facades
  • fences
  • outbuildings
  • retaining walls
  • balconies
  • retaining walls
  • crawl spaces

Even though asbestos is now banned for most uses in the United States, exposure to asbestos bricks and mortar is still possible today. Cutting, drilling, sanding or scraping brick siding, bricks or brick mortar made with asbestos can create dust. Since asbestos particles are so small, there is no way to know when asbestos is in the air, and asbestos fibers can stay airborne for long periods of time.

Which occupations are most affected by asbestos bricks?

People in certain occupations are more at risk for exposure to asbestos dust than others. 

  • Anyone working on a construction site where renovation or demolition of a structure built before 1980 is taking place may come in contact with dust from asbestos bricks or mortar. This includes carpenters, insulation installers, construction crews, glaziers, ironworkers, and drywall and floor installers.
  • Firefighters, police officers, and paramedics responding to damaged buildings where asbestos has been released into the environment are also frequently exposed. The survivors and first responders of 9/11 experienced adverse health outcomes from spending days and weeks sifting through the toxic dust and smoke that lingered in the air following the collapse of the Twin Towers.
  • School buildings were also a significant source of asbestos at one time. Teachers who work in buildings constructed prior to 1975 are disproportionately affected by asbestos exposure as a result. Elementary school teachers are twice as likely to die from mesothelioma than the average American.
  • Military exposure can occur when personnel comes in contact with bombed or burned-out buildings. Asbestos was also commonly used in building materials for military barracks because of its cost-effectiveness.
  • Secondary asbestos exposure happens when a worker carries asbestos dust or particles home on their clothes or shoes, exposing their family members.

What companies manufactured asbestos bricks and brick mortar?

There is evidence that many companies responsible for using asbestos in bricks and mortar knew of potential risks to their workers’ health as early as the 1930s, but continued to make these products, putting profit over safety. They also failed to provide employees with protective gear, exposing generations of bricklayers and construction crews to toxic levels of asbestos and producing products that placed consumers in harm’s way.

Some of the companies that manufactured bricks that contained asbestos:

  • GAF/Ruberoid
  • General Refractories Company (Grefco)
  • Harbison-Walker Refractories Company
  • Dresser Industries, Inc.
  • Sherwin-Williams Paint Company

Brick mortar products that contained asbestos include:

  • H.K. Porter Bonding Mortar Ho. 20
  • National Gypsum Gold Bond Mortar Mix
  • United States Gypsum Pyrobar Mortar Mix

What is an asbestos brick trust fund?

Many companies like these were forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after being sued. Courts ordered them to establish trust funds for victims of asbestos exposure who later developed mesothelioma or other grave health conditions. These funds are meant to help victims and their families with medical expenses and compensate them for their pain and suffering. An estimated $30 billion is still available for future claims.

Established trusts can offer victims a faster avenue for receiving compensation than a lawsuit because the money is already set aside for claimants.

Do I need an attorney for my asbestos brick case?

Whether your situation is as easy as accessing a trust fund or you’re considering filing a lawsuit, you will require the help of an attorney knowledgeable in asbestos exposure claims. The team at Lanier Law Firm has the experience you need to win a fair settlement following your mesothelioma or cancer diagnosis. One of the premier mesothelioma case firms in the world, Lanier Law Firm was responsible for winning a $4.65 billion settlement from Johnson & Johnson for its role in exposing consumers to talcum powder containing asbestos.

Sam Taylor, Mark Lanier, Darron Berquist and our team of asbestos attorneys can help you identify the source of your asbestos exposure and recover the compensation you deserve. Find out if you’re eligible to receive damages for related medical expenses and lost wages today. Lanier Law Firm may not be able to give you back what was taken from you, but we can help to ensure that you and your family have financial peace of mind so you can focus on your health.

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