Poughkeepsie, New York was chartered as a city in 1854 and is currently the county seat for Dutchess County. The city is located 85 miles north of New York City, in the Hudson River Valley midway between New York City and Albany. In 2010, the “Queen City of the Hudson River,” had a population of nearly 33,000. Poughkeepsie was recently named by Forbes as of one of the best cities to raise a family.
Poughkeepsie began to flourish during the 19th century as industries including shipping, hatteries (hat-making), paper mills, and breweries took root along the Hudson River. Shipping and other manufacturing industries were an important part of the economy in Poughkeepsie well into the twentieth century. Until 1972, the Smith Brothers cough drop factory was based in Poughkeepsie.
Poughkeepsie is home to several large IBM factories and buildings, including a 56,000-square-foot facility opened in 2010 that will produces IBM’s System z mainframe computers and high-end Power Systems servers, and was once home to IBM’s main plant. IBM maintains a campus of nearly 423 acres, two-thirds of which is occupied by a manufacturing complex with more than 50 buildings.
IBM at Poughkeepsie is involved in manufacturing, assembling and testing large business machines, primarily computers. The manufacturing process involves the cleaning of electric components with solvents; electroplating; photoetching; degreasing, and soldering of components.
Asbestos was used in the buildings, lab equipment, bench tops, and safety clothing of Poughkeepsie factories and shops.
Asbestos was also a standard building material in industrial manufacturing plants. Asbestos has been used for a wide range of manufactured goods, including boilers, turbines, valves, electrical components, and pumps. It was also used to make materials such as: roofing shingles; ceiling and floor tiles; paper products; cement products; automobile clutch, brake, gaskets and transmission parts; and heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, and coatings.
The Dangers of Asbestos
Workers exposed to asbestos in Poughkeepsie are susceptible to developing mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related diseases. Mesothelioma is a unique and rare form of cancer, typically affecting the lining of the lungs, caused after inhaled asbestos fibers become lodged deep in the lung tissue. Individuals primarily sickened with asbestos-related diseases were exposed to asbestos in the workplace.
However, some people were exposed to asbestos through unsafe demolition or renovation practices of pre-1970 structures where asbestos was used in many of the construction materials. Military veterans are also susceptible to developing mesothelioma.
The State of New York has seen close to 4,000 deaths blamed on asbestos exposure since 1979, more than all other states in the U.S. except California and Florida.
Asbestos fibers are very toxic and have serious and harmful side effects associated with exposure. Lung cancer and asbestosis are also known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. The real tragedy of mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related diseases, is that they could have been avoided. Most of the victims of the disease were unwittingly exposed to asbestos at work or while serving in the military.
Historically, companies that supplied asbestos where these men and women worked did not provide adequate safety warnings to prevent the workers from inhaling the asbestos fibers. As a result, many men and women inhaled the toxic mineral in the work environment.