New York City and its impressive skyline are symbols of economic strength, but that economy contributed decades of deadly asbestos exposure. Most of the industrial workplaces in the city used asbestos, and many of the older buildings still in use in all boroughs contain the harmful material.
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New York City Asbestos Facts
- Queens County, home to the Queens borough of New York City, ranks ninth out of all U.S. counties on the list of deaths caused by asbestos in the late 1990s.
- Between 1999 and 2013, the deaths related to asbestos in all the counties of New York City numbered over 2,000.
- New York’s asbestos history began with its many ports and shipyards.
- Other industries in the city used asbestos and caused exposure, including transportation, construction, the military, and all types of manufacturing.
- The destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001 contributed to significant asbestos exposure in first responders.
When the World Trade Center fell on September 11, 2001, asbestos and other toxic materials contaminated the air and surfaces, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The construction of the World Trade Center towers began in the 1960s, a time when asbestos was still heavily used for insulation and in building supplies.
According to engineers, the first 40 floors of each tower contained significant amounts of asbestos. With a looming ban on the mineral, however, the upper floors of the towers were asbestos-free as workers were ordered to stop using it.
The devastation of the tower collapses included exposure in first responders and others on the site. Many of those people are now getting sick.
Established in 1905 as a boilermaker company, Burnham Holdings went on to manufacture HVAC products and become the parent company of 13 subsidiaries.
Burnham Commercial was founded by Frederick A. Lord, a greenhouse manufacturer, in the late 1800s. In 1917, the company purchased the Geneva Boiler Works and began manufacturing and selling boilers.
Still in business today, Burnham produces boilers for commercial and industrial applications. In recent years, many workers have filed asbestos-related lawsuits. They claim to have faced daily asbestos exposure at the Burnham Commercial facilities.
In 2013, a New York jury awarded $190 million in a lawsuit against Burnham Commercial after five workers were exposed to asbestos while working in the plumbing, steamfitting and construction industries areas of the company. All five plaintiffs developed mesothelioma.
Burnham Commercial manufactured several asbestos-containing products and materials, including:
- Fire-retardant bricks
- Pipe insulation
Burnam Holdings locations include:
- Bryan Steam LLC, Peru, Ind.
- Burnham Casualty Insurance Co., Burlington, Vt.
- Burnham Commercial, Lancaster, Penn.
- Burnham Financial LLC, Wilmington, Del.
- Burnham Services Inc., Wilmington, Del.
- Casting Solutions LLC, Zanesville, Ohio
- Crown Boiler Co., Philadelphia, Penn.
- Governale Company Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Lancaster Metal Manufacturing Inc., Lancaster, Penn.
- New Yorker Boiler Company Inc., Hatfield, Penn.
- Norwood Manufacturing Inc., Norwood, N.C.
- Thermal Solutions Products LLC,Lancaster, Penn.
- Thermo Products LLC,North Judson, Ind., and Denton, N.C.
- U.S. Boiler Company Inc., Lancaster, Penn.
Brooklyn Navy Yard
The Brooklyn Navy Yard was first known as the New York Navy Yard after its establishment in the 1700s. In the 1930s, the shipyard became the leading battleship construction shipyard in the United States. At one time it was one of the largest employers in the Northeast for both men and women.
Throughout most of World War II, the Brooklyn Navy Yard repaired ships and focused on conversions. It also gained experience in building coal, on freight liners, and on barges. By 1966, after a large fire that swept through the yard, Brooklyn Navy Yard closed down.
Asbestos was everywhere in shipbuilding from before World War II through the 1970s. It could be found in protective clothing, equipment, machinery, insulation, boilers, engines, and more.
Workers reported health complaints as early as 1940, and a medical officer was assigned to the shipyard to help promote safety. Workers were expected to be allowed the standards of the United States Public Health Service, including regular chest X-rays and complete blood analysis tests.
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden was constructed and opened in 1968. Like many other buildings during that period, construction of Madison Square Garden included many asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
ACMs were primarily used for insulation in the piping systems responsible for providing heat, hot water, and steam. As the dangers of asbestos became well known, remediation efforts were made. Workers still experienced exposure for years and were put at risk of developing deadly illnesses.
In 2010, an NBA basketball game scheduled at Madison Square Garden was canceled after reports that asbestos had fallen from the rafters in the arena. A New York City Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson reported that the arena’s air-conditioning monitoring system detected asbestos in the air.
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Similar to the Madison Square Garden, the Nassau Veterans Coliseum was built during a time of heavy asbestos use. Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum was built with a number of ACMs. Asbestos was also used in pipes, flooring, tiles, and more. Yet, unlike Madison Square Garden, the coliseum was never renovated and it never went through asbestos abatement.
In 2012, over 75 employees at Nassau filed an asbestos lawsuit after claiming that the ACMs inside the building made their workplace an unsafe environment. As a result, the New York Department of Labor started an investigation into the claims.
“The whole place is covered with it (asbestos). “The county is responsible for keeping Nassau Coliseum safe, but it never renovated it, or did an asbestos abatement,” the plaintiff’s attorney said.
Although county investigators reported that the coliseum was safe, lab tests confirmed that asbestos was found in several sections of the seating, on the catwalk, and throughout hallways.
Over 1,000 people have been employed at Nassau since its opening in 1972. Unfortunately, the majority of these people are at a heightened risk of developing an asbestos illness.
Jobs with Risk of Asbestos Exposure
New York workers who are more likely to have been exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos include:
- Power plant workers
- Shipyard workers
- Workers in metal factories and steel mills
- Factory employees, especially those assigned to high-heat sections
- Railroad yard workers
- Sailors and officers in civilian and military vessels
Additional Businesses in Buildings Associated with Asbestos in NYC
Schools and Hospitals
- Andrew Jackson High School
- Cathedral High School
- Manhattan Day School
- Bronx Community College
- Columbia College
- Cornell Medical College
- Teachers College- Columbia University
- Fordham University
- New York University
- Bellevue Hospital Center
- Beth Israel Hospital
- Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center
- Elmhurst Hospital Center
- New York Presbyterian Hospital
- Coney Island Hospital
- Flower Hospital
- Fordham University
- Harlem Hospital Center
- St Luke’s Hospital
- St. Barnabas Hospital
- St. Mark’s Hospital
- St. Vincent Hospital of City of New York
- Ambassador Construction
- Chemical Construction Corporation
- Hedden Construction Company
- Lord Construction Company
- O’Rourke Engineering and Construction Company
- Oxnard Construction Company
- Sigmund Sommers Construction
Electric and Gas Companies
- General Electric
- Inland Electric
- North River Electric Light and Power Company
- Queens Borough Gas and Electric Company
- Trinidad Electric Company
- United Electric Light & Power Company
- Western Electric Company
- Westinghouse Electric International Company
Apartments and Hotels
- Americana Hotel
- Belmont Hotel
- Coleman Hotel
- Dryden Hotel
- Empire Hotel
- Herald Square Hotel
- Hilton Hotel
- Waldorf Astoria
- Irving Hotel
- The Manhattan at Times Square
- Martha Washington Hotel
- The Ritz-Carlton
- The St. Regis New York
- Sturtevant Hotel
- Central Park Apartments
- The Dakota
- Langham Apartments
- Montana Apartments
- New Astor Apartments
- Windermere House Apartments
Additional Companies and Buildings
- American Stock Exchange
- American Axe and Tool Company
- American Agricultural Chemical Company
- Anderson Bath Building
- Arctic Hygera Ice Manufacturing Company
- Armstrong Contracting & Supply Corporation
- Arctic Hygiene Ice Manufacturing Company
- Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company
- Baker Smith and Company
- Bank of Manhattan-Union Square Branch
- Bankers Trust Company Building
- Barber Asphalt Paving Company
- Barrett Manufacturing Company
- Beardslee Nickel and Manufacturing Company
- Beckett and Mcdowell Manufacturing Company
- Bordens Condensed Milk Company
- Bowery Savings Bank Building
- Budge Wood Laundry Service Inc.
- Carbondale Machine Company
- Caronet Phosphate Company
- D. L. and W. Railroad Company
- Empire Mutual Insurance Building
- F.M. Schaeffer Brewing Company
- Fajardo Sugar Company
- First National City Bank Building
- Fleischmann Manufacturing Company
- Greene Consolidated Gold Company
Cancer Treatment in New York City
Mesothelioma and other asbestos illnesses require specialized care. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) designates and recommends some of the best, high-quality cancer centers in the country, including several in New York City.
The Albert Einstein Cancer Center (AECC), in the Bronx, is an NCI-designated care center. AECC received an NCI-designation in 1972 and has since expanded to include several cancer research programs, state-of-the-art cancer treatment technology, and much more.
Albert Einstein Cancer Center
Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University
Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, NY 10461
Additional cancer care medical centers in the New York City area include:
NYU Langone Medical Center
550 First Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
1275 York Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Care Center
701 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
NY Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center
622 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
Getting Legal Help for Mesothelioma in New York City
If you or a loved one have been a victim to mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer, remember that you may qualify for significant compensation. Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area.
Page Reviewed and Edited by New York Mesothelioma Lawyer Joseph W. Belluck
Joseph W. Belluck is a founding member of the New York mesothelioma law firm Belluck & Fox, LLP. He graduated magna cum laude from SUNY Buffalo School of Law and has since spent more than 20 years advocating on behalf of victims of asbestos diseases. His work has included more than $1 billion in settlements for victims. He is also deeply involved in public service and philanthropy, serving on advisory boards, state commissions, and groups dedicated to helping children in foster care.