Years Produced: 1838-1950s
Home and buildings come equipped with ducts that circulate air through pipes and channels. The circulated air provides heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Air system ductwork and machinery utilizes special connectors to reduce sound and movement within the duct system, known as ductwork connectors, flexible duct connectors and gaiters.
Asbestos ductwork systems were tested as early as 1938 with Johns Manville writing about their abilities in the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Journal. In 1951 the National Fire Protection Agency’s codes recommended flexible connections using asbestos just as air conditioning systems were starting to be popular and affordable for homes.
Flexible ductwork connectors look like thin strips of bendable material with a variety of sizes contingent upon the specific air system. Manufacturers often make this bendable material from canvas or woven cloth, which works to reduce the sounds of rattling and vibration. Flexible ductwork connectors withstand varying pressure conditions and connect duct joints through riveting to metal or clips.
During the mid-1940s and 1950s, manufactures used asbestos fiber in the material for ductwork connectors. Once damaged, these asbestos fibers can be emitted into air, impairing the health of those who have been in proximity or direct contact with connectors.
Our Patient Advocates can answer your questions about asbestos exposure and help you find a top attorney.
Manufacturers of ductwork products contaminated with asbestos include Duro-dyne Corporation, Celotex Corporation, Nicolet, Inc., Grant Wilson, Inc., Fuller H. B. Company, Manville Corporation and Turner & Newall.
Workers may encounter asbestos fibers released into the air through actions such as repairing, cutting, tearing, installing, removing or disturbing ductwork connectors. Wear from time and temperature changes can deteriorate ductwork, causing fibers to become friable, or easily crumbled into dust or small particles.
Ductwork systems may contaminate the air by circulating disturbed asbestos fibers from connectors, endangering all occupants. Duct installers, sheet metal mechanics, construction workers, air ventilation repairmen, remodelers and homeowners may be exposed to duct connectors containing up to 50 percent chrysotile asbestos.
A number of people who worked with asbestos-contaminated ductwork developed diseases decades later and held the manufacturers liable in court. For example, Genaro Garcia was employed in the sheet metal industry, using Duro-Dyne's flex HVAC duct connectors and duct sealers, which contained asbestos. Garcia developed peritoneal mesothelioma, which required two years of chemotherapy before the cancer went into remission. In 2005, a San Francisco jury awarded Garcia nearly $2 million dollars in medical expenses and damages.
Timothy Hedgecorth encountered asbestos in duct insulation of a building that was remodeled by Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, owned by Union Pacific. Hedgecorth worked for a year in the building, around pipes and insulation in worn condition and while the ceiling was removed, dust covered the area. In 2000 Dr. Jill Ohar diagnosed Hedgecorth with asbestosis. In 2002 a court found Union Pacific responsible of for 80 percent of the damages, requiring them to pay $240,000,000.
View our resources for patients and familiesGet Help Today