Ohio has a long history as a center of American manufacturing. The state has hosted the corporate headquarters of several major players in the asbestos industry.
Cincinnati was home to the Philip Carey Manufacturing Corporation. It mined asbestos for use in a variety of insulation products. Cleveland was home to the North American Refractories Company, or NARCO. It specialized in manufacturing heat- and friction-resistant materials.
Medina has the headquarters of Republic Powdered Metals. It acquired Reardon Company’s line of Bondex-brand products and the liability for the asbestos in those products.
Headquartered in Toledo, the Dana Corporation made asbestos-containing brake pads, gaskets and seals. Toledo is also home to the Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation. It was a producer of asbestos-containing insulation, while fellow insulation manufacturer Owens-Illinois Inc. is headquartered in Perrysburg.
In January 2022, a renovation of a century-old library in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, began thanks to an asbestos removal project. The project removed old asbestos floor tile and asbestos-containing caulking. Other historic buildings throughout Ohio remain contaminated with asbestos. The state oversees asbestos removal projects to ensure the safety of workers and residents.
Exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. Ohio is home to the original Cleveland Clinic, now one of the top cancer centers in the country. Mesothelioma patients and their families in Ohio may also have legal options to cover medical costs.
Occupations and Job Sites at Risk
Manufacturers used asbestos as an additive to make materials more durable and heat resistant. However, workers who regularly inhaled asbestos dust created by industrial processes are at an elevated risk for life-threatening diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Rubber workers got exposed to asbestos at facilities in Akron, Ohio. Goodyear, Firestone and others had plants in Akron. Workers used asbestos-contaminated talc to keep the rubber from sticking together. In 2020, a $72.5 million settlement occurred between rubber workers and the talc supplier.
The Scotts Company received the raw mineral from Libby, Montana. Other Ohio vermiculite-processing plants did as well. Vermiculite from Libby contains tremolite asbestos. Processing released asbestos, which posed a health hazard to workers and those living in the vicinity.
Steel Mills and Factories
Metal workers got exposed to asbestos on the job. Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, AK Steel Holding Corporation and LTV Steel had operations in Ohio. Similar risks apply to manufacturers of car parts and appliances, such as employees of Ohio Cast Products.
Petroleum Refineries and Chemical Plants
Ohio is a leading producer of rubber, plastics and other chemicals. The high-temperature pipes and refining equipment involved in chemical production need insulation. Asbestos insulation was the type used in these settings.
Asbestos insulation was also installed in power plants throughout Ohio. Arc chutes, electrical boxes and wire also contained asbestos.
Schools and Other Old Buildings
Construction tradesmen have always carried a high risk of asbestos exposure. Frequent use of the mineral in building materials occurred for most of the 20th century. Asbestos-containing materials remain in many old buildings in Ohio, endangering present-day workers as well as residents and students performing renovation without proper protection.
Ohio Job Sites with Confirmed Asbestos Exposure
- Ohio Cast Products
- Stark Ceramics
- Electrode Corporation
- American Ship Building Company
- Coleman Trucking, Inc.
- LTV Steel Works
- NASA Glenn Research Center
- North American Refractories
- Railroad Friction Products Corporation
- Republic Services / Allied Waste
- Apex Manufacturing
- National Cash Register Company (NCR Corporation)
- H&M Demolition Company
- Hoerner-Waldorf Corporation
- Laskin/Poplar Oil Company
- Rapid American/Philip Carey Manufacturing
- AK Steel
- Scotts Company
- Rapid American/Philip Carey Manufacturing
- Owens-Illinois, Inc.
- Honey Creek Contracting Company
- Weirton Steel
- Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel
Ohio Cast Products Superfund Site
Ohio Cast Products manufactured iron car parts in Canton until its bankruptcy in 2004. In 2008, a fire destroyed significant portions of the facility.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials found asbestos and other hazards among the debris. The EPA labeled the former Ohio Cast Products facility as a Superfund site and began immediate cleanup. Although the cleanup finished within a few years. Exposure among former employees occurred as recently as 2004.
Scotts Company Marysville Facility
Between 1967 and 1980, the Scotts Company’s Marysville facility received and processed 430,000 tons of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite from Libby, Montana, making it the largest U.S. consumer of the ore in the nation.
Vermiculite from Libby contains harmful asbestos fibers. Medical studies conducted on the workers noted 26 percent of the company’s employees had asbestos-related lung scarring or pleural plaques.
The EPA feared local residents were also at risk of asbestos exposure. People living in the area before 1980 may have been incidentally exposed to asbestos in the air near the plant. However, soil samples from 2000 were negative for asbestos contamination.
NASA Glenn Research Center
Employees at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland reported asbestos in 2004 and again in 2007. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health inspected buildings at the center.
Abatement projects removed most of the asbestos. The remaining posed minimal to no threat to current employees.
Ohio Asbestos Laws
Businesses and individuals in the U.S. must adhere to the Clean Air Act, a federal law passed in 1963 to protect the public from hazardous or toxic air pollutants. In addition, Ohio’s state regulations for preventing asbestos contamination during demolition and renovation are consistent with the EPA’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.
There have been several cases in Ohio where violations of the Clean Air Act and other EPA laws have resulted in serious penalties.
Stark Ceramics in Canton
The most prominent case involves the improper demolition of the former Stark Ceramics facility in Canton.
Russell Stewart was the owner and operator of a company called Chemstruction. Inspectors ordered him to halt demolition work when inspectors found asbestos-containing panels. Stewart continued the demolition.
State and federal agencies partnered to prosecute Stewart, resulting in a 21-month prison sentence and a fine of $876,228.
Steam Plant in Dayton
Another case involved improper removal and disposal of asbestos materials during a 2016 renovation of a steam plant in Dayton, Ohio.
In January 2019, federal authorities charged John Riazzi, owner of the property, for failing to inspect the facilities before renovation and failing to notify the EPA prior to work starting. Riazzi was also charged for failing to wet asbestos materials before demolition and for improper disposal of asbestos waste.
Cancer Support Resources in Ohio
There are many local resources for cancer patients in Ohio. Financial assistance is available through the Stephen A. Comunale, Jr. Family Cancer Foundation. Free support programs and services are provided by the Ohio branch of the Cancer Support Community as well as an organization called the Gathering Place. The American Cancer Society and American Lung Association also sponsor various local events and programs in Ohio.