Rock Wool’s History with Asbestos
Rock Wool Manufacturing Company incorporated asbestos into mineral wool boards and insulation cement products that were used to help secure pipe insulation.
Rock wool is another name for mineral wool insulation. The material was developed in the 1850s and patented in the U.S. in 1875. It remained prominent in construction through the 1950s. It is still used today in some new construction, manufactured housing and special applications such as insulation on low-slope roofed cathedral ceilings.
Industry leaders of rock wool products included Johns Manville and Gold Bond. The majority of these products did not contain asbestos, but some companies experimented with stitching asbestos and rock wool together.
The installation or removal of such products was a source of asbestos exposure. The workers who manufactured Rock Wool’s products also faced asbestos hazards while on the job.
Development of Rock Wool Trust
Rock Wool faced many lawsuits from workers who claimed their products caused them to develop asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos litigation forced the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996.
On Dec. 20, 1999, the company emerged from bankruptcy and established the Rock Wool Asbestos Trust to manage and settle asbestos personal injury and property damage claims.
This trust is currently inactive. The last open claim filing period for Rock Wool Manufacturing Company ended on Jan. 13, 2011.
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Asbestos Litigation Involving Rock Wool
Rock Wool was named as a defendant in many asbestos lawsuits, some of which were filed by people diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare cancer cause by asbestos exposure.
- During a 1994 trial, a jury found Rock Wool negligent of producing unreasonably dangerous products. In addition to having to pay damages to a number of parties, the company was found guilty of not placing hazard warnings on their products.
- In a 1995 case filed by Samuel Jackson and his wife, Rock Wool was one of the many co-defendants that settled during trial. The Jacksons claimed asbestos-containing products manufactured by Rock Wool caused Jackson to develop an asbestos-related disease.
These cases were just a few of the estimated 150,000 asbestos lawsuits filed against Rock Wool Manufacturing.
Rock Wool’s Asbestos Products and Workers at Risk
The company used asbestos in the following products from 1958 to 1970 including:
- Delta Maid One Shot Insulating Cement
- Delta Maid High Temp Insulating Cement
- Delta Maid High Temp-Master Cement
- High Temp-Master
- AF Cement
Their cement adhesives were used to secure thermal pipe insulation to pipes after asbestos insulation was tightly wrapped around them.
Former workers of Rock Wool who helped make these products faced some of the biggest risks of exposure.
The construction industry was impacted by Rock Wool asbestos products more than any other industry. When these products were installed or disturbed during renovations or other projects, asbestos dust became airborne and those nearby could have inhale toxic asbestos fibers.
These products were used in many locations and affected a number of occupations including:
- Power plant workers
- Shipyard workers
- Navy or crew members
- Construction workers
- Demolition workers
- Maintenance workers
- Industrial workers
Rock Wool History
Rock Wool was founded in 1943 in Leeds, Alabama, and manufactured residential blowing wool insulation.
The company’s involvement in construction materials expanded gradually, encompassing insulating cements and asbestos wool boards in the 1950s.
Rock Wool Manufacturing Company Facts
In 1988, the company added wrapped pipe insulation to its product line.
Rock Wool still makes products for residential, industrial and commercial buildings as well as marine applications, none of which contains asbestos. Most of its products sold today are marketed under the trade name DELTA.
6 Cited Article Sources
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RAND. (2010). Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts: An Overview of Trust Structure and Activity with Detailed Reports on the Largest Trusts.
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Last Modified September 24, 2019