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Former Zonolite Plant in Weedsport, NY Still Causing Asbestos Problems

New York Zonolite Plant Poses Asbestos Danger

Though the Weedsport Zonolite plant closed down in 1989, the danger of developing asbestos related mesothelioma from Zonolite products has not gone away. 

In addition to craftsmen and women who may stumble across Zonolite products in old buildings, former workers and their families may still be at risk of developing mesothelioma from asbestos contamination.  A report published by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry confirmed that those employed at the Zonolite Company/W.R. Grace plant were on more than one occasion exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos that exceeded workplace safety standards.


Roughly 25 miles from Syracuse, N.Y., the plant was used to produce insulation and other asbestos materials that contained vermiculite ore that had been through a heat treatment process called exfoliating.  According to official records 148,000 tons of that ore came from a mine in Libby, Montana, a mine that also contained naturally occurring asbestos.  Contaminated vermiculite ore placed hundreds of employees and their families at lifelong risk of developing mesothelioma (a specific type of cancer caused by inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers.)


First and Second Hand Asbestos Exposure


In addition to encountering the asbestos in the workplace, Zonolite plant workers also carried fibers home on their clothing and in their hair.  These fibers placed their family members in danger of second hand exposure to asbestos as well, says the ATSDR report.  Asbestos fibers would have become airborne during the processing of the vermiculite and could have easily been ingested or inhaled.  Once asbestos fibers are in the body, they may stay there forever.  They continuously work their way into the lining of the lungs and digestive tract, causing various types of mesothelioma (depending on where they are located in the body). 


Zonolite brand insulation continues to pose a health risk to the general public, home builders, and trade professionals such as electricians and plumbers.  The products have become the center of multiple class action lawsuits against the former manufacturers and the EPA has found it impossible to estimate the number of homes and businesses that may still contain contaminated Zonolite insulation. 


Threat of Developing Mesothelioma 


Approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in The United States alone.  Unfortunately, once exposed to asbestos, the risk of developing mesothelioma never goes away.  In fact, mesothelioma can have an incubation period of up to fifty or even sixty years before presenting symptoms.


Mesothelioma is, for the most part, incurable.  If the disease is diagnosed early enough, modern medicine can drastically improve the quality of life of the sufferer but more often than not mesothelioma results in death.    The World Health Organization has recorded over 174,000 mesothelioma deaths between 1994 and 2008.  It’s estimated that one in four or perhaps one in five cases of mesothelioma go unreported.


If you’re a former worker employed by the Zonolite plant in Weedsport or a family member and you exhibit the symptoms of mesothelioma, immediately consult with a qualified medical professional.