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Asbestos Use in New York City

New York Office

Belluck & Fox LLP
546 Fifth Ave, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 681-1575

Other Offices

New York City & Asbestos Exposure

The five boroughs of New York City are considered to be among the most vibrant and cultural places in the world. Made up of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island – New York City is home to more than eight million people living in just over 300 square miles.

New York City has been a construction and transportation hub for over 200 years. In the mid-19th to early 20th century, New York City’s ideal proximity to rivers, harbors and the ocean made it an industrial haven for shipping, power plants and manufacturing trades. Many immigrants to the United States joined labor unions and became electricians, plumbers, printers, construction workers, laborers, steamfitters and painters. In many cases, generations of grandfathers, fathers and sons worked in the same trades. Many of these trades used asbestos-containing equipment, insulation, electrical products, joint compounds, floor tiles, building materials and pipe. Asbestos was used in the City’s construction boom in the early 20th century to insulate schools, public housing units, sewage treatment plants, office facilities, churches, restaurants, bars and many other public establishments.

Other workers found employment in New York City’s garment and metal factories, power generation plants, oil refineries, chemical plants, and shipyards. Many of these plants used asbestos in and on equipment including boilers, pumps, valves and turbines. Asbestos was widely used in shipyards and power plants.

Shipyards. The ship-building industry used asbestos to insulate equipment, pipes, and boilers. Civilian shipyard workers known as yardbirds built ships, and were often joined by U.S. Navy workers to repair ships during World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War. The Brooklyn Navy Yard was among the largest shipyards in the World. Many of the New York City shipyards had dry docks which allowed ships to be lifted out of the water for extensive construction and repair. Veterans and civilian shipyard workers make up a large percentage of asbestos-caused injuries such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Power Plants. The power plant industry also used asbestos insulation. Utilities such as Con Edison and Brooklyn Union Gas used asbestos. Power plant workers used asbestos products to insulate equipment, boilers, turbines, pipes and electrical products. Anyone who worked in a power plant before the mid-1980s was virtually guaranteed to be exposed to deadly asbestos fibers. Like shipyard workers, power plant workers also make up a large percentage of asbestos-related injuries such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Mesothelioma is also common among the other trades including construction workers, plumbers, electricians, printers and painters.

Although asbestos manufacturers and suppliers often knew that the product could cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and other lung cancers, they failed to warn workers that used asbestos of these dangers and risks.

As a result, many of New York City’s residents who worked with asbestos during those times – and family members exposed to asbestos fibers on workers’ clothing – are getting diagnosed with mesothelioma or have died from that disease. Many victims do not realize they’ve suffered asbestos-related injuries from 15 to 60 years after exposure, and asbestos injury claims continue to be filed in New York City against manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos products.

New York City Shipyards with Known Asbestos Exposure:

Bethlehem Steel Shipyard; Brooklyn & Staten Island
Brooklyn Naval Shipyard
Todd Shipyards; Brooklyn & Staten Island

New York City Powerhouse Plants with Known Asbestos Exposure:

Consolidated Edison Kent Avenue Powerhouse
Consolidated Edison Hudson Avenue Powerhouse

Consolidated Edison 14th Street Powerhouse
Consolidated Edison 34th Street Powerhouse
Consolidated Edison 39th Street Powerhouse
Consolidated Edison 40th Street Powerhouse
Consolidated Edison 59th Street Powerhouse
Consolidated Edison 74th Street Powerhouse
Consolidated Edison Hellgate Powerhouse

Astoria Powerhouse-Astoria
Charles Poletti Power Project
Consolidated Edison Ravenswood Powerhouse

Staten Island:
Consolidated Edison Arthur Kill Powerhouse