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Asbestos Exposures at the National Lead Company – Sayreville, New Jersey

In the early 1930s, the National Lead Company expanded its East Coast operations, constructing a new research and development facility in Sayreville, New Jersey. Housing the company’s Pigment and Titanium Divisions, National Lead’s Sayreville facility saw rapid growth through the decades, culminating in continuing expansion through to the 1980s. With research and development facilities, laboratories, water activities and small-scale manufacturing, National Lead’s Sayreville location was an important worksite for the company’s product line.

The Sayreville plant contained a myriad of research laboratories, large and small. At its height of activity, National Lead boasted about the amount of laboratories available to its scientists, engineers and researchers, including personalized 19 x 19 feet workspaces for a variety of experiments. Innovation was encouraged at the Sayreville plant, and employees were given wide access to various materials. Additionally, National Lead utilized Sayreville’s Raritan River, creating a dam and pumping operations to take advantage of the supply of water.

Company literature concerning National Lead’s Sayreville Plant shows that laboratory hoods were installed in every research room at the worksite. Generally used to protect employees from exposure to chemicals or dust, National Lead purchased hoods made of transite, a product that generally contained large amounts of asbestos fiber. Hanging items from the hoods, as well as installation and removal of the equipment, exposed National Lead employees to airborne asbestos. Other equipment, including heating products, piping, insulation and ductwork was installed in each laboratory.

While celebrating its state of the art research facilities, National Lead noted the laboratories’ red and black floor tiling, which was made of “asphalt-bonded” asbestos tile. Other equipment, including ovens, air compressors, fans, and fabricating-equipment was installed in each laboratory. Supporting fresh water operations, National Lead would have installed and maintained large pumps to move the Raritan’s water through its facilities. Equipment like boilers, pumps and valves would have supported site operations, and powered equipment. National Lead’s maintenance gangs would have performed the maintenance and repair of this equipment.

For several decades, Levy Konigsberg has represented individuals of all trades and career backgrounds, including employees of research and development facilities. Historically, many laboratories like National Lead purchased equipment, including asbestos-containing components, from companies like Fisher Scientific. Offering a wide array of laboratory materials for research and development, these companies sold numerous asbestos products, including paper, pads, raw fiber, cloth, gloves and powder. Additionally, insulating materials to wrap around heating products were marketed by these companies to the scientific community.

Individuals who worked in research and development laboratories were regularly exposed to airborne dust. Without warning or proper ventilation, researchers cut into asbestos paper and transite. Raw asbestos was regularly handled, used as a filler or insulating material on hot products. Ovens in the laboratories were often insulated externally, and refractory material within was regularly replaced. Between the 1940s and 1980s, much of the equipment marked to these facilities by laboratory-supply companies contained vast amounts of asbestos. Additionally, the individuals who repaired equipment at National Lead worked with and around asbestos, regularly changing gaskets and packing on the plant’s supporting equipment.

If you or a loved one worked at National Lead’s Sayreville plant and have developed an asbestos-related disease, call today for a free consultation.

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