Bestwall Gypsum, a company that produced construction and building products for many years, was eventually sold to the large paper manufacturer Georgia-Pacific. Many products made by Bestwall contained asbestos and caused harmful exposure in workers. In 2017 Bestwall created an asbestos trust fund to compensate those who became ill.
Bestwall Gypsum was the first gypsum wallboard ever manufactured. This product was called Beaver Products’ Bestwall. In 1928, it was bought by CertainTeed Corporation, a major manufacturer and distributor of gypsum products. Bestwall continued to gain popularity through the post-war construction boom of the 1940s and 1950s.
Because of this success, CertainTeed spun off a new company called Bestwall Gypsum. Although the product had been manufactured for decades, Bestwall Gypsum didn’t actually exist until created by CertainTeed in 1961.
Bestwall Gypsum also expanded its product line to include similar construction materials, including joint compound and spackle.
In 1965, Georgia Pacific, best known for making paper products, bought Bestwall Gypsum Company, adding Bestwall products to its lineup.
Although the risks of asbestos to human health were becoming well-known, Georgia Pacific continued to manufacture materials with asbestos. This continued until regulations passed in the 1970s made production more difficult. For many years, Bestwall Gypsum products contained significant amounts of asbestos.
Bestwall’s Asbestos Products
Bestwall was successful in producing a handful of products. Most of these products were manufactured using the mineral gypsum. Gypsum is a hydrated calcium sulfate mineral long used to make drywall, wallboard, plaster, and similar construction materials.
Before the 1980s, most gypsum products contained asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers were often included to strengthen the material or add insulating and fireproofing properties. The amount of asbestos used varied from one product or brand to the next.
Bestwall Gypsum wallboard, joint compounds, and spackle all contained asbestos. Georgia Pacific also made other construction products with asbestos, including:
- Drywall adhesives
- Lite acoustic plaster
- Topping compound
- Patching plaster
- Wall and ceiling texture
- Bedding compound
- Laminating ready mix
These products contained asbestos until 1977, when the company stopped using it in manufacturing.
Occupations and People at Risk for Exposure to Asbestos
The use of asbestos in Bestwall Gypsum products and Georgia Pacific construction materials put many people at risk of asbestos exposure and resulting illness. Anyone who worked or lived around asbestos was at risk.
If asbestos is not well contained, tiny fibers can come loose and contaminate the air, water, or soil. Airborne asbestos can also settle with dust on clothing and surfaces. People in the vicinity can inhale or ingest the tiny fibers, leading to tissue damage and fatal diseases like asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
Those at the greatest risk of exposure from Bestwall products were individuals working in manufacturing. These people may have spent years handling and working around asbestos. Any workers who used the Bestwall products in other lines of work, especially construction, were also at risk.
Drywallers were not the only construction workers at risk of asbestos exposure. Plumbers, carpenters, painters, carpet installers, and electricians working with or near asbestos were also at risk of exposure.
Although asbestos is no longer used in these products today, certain workers are still at risk of exposure. Buildings made before the early 1980s may contain Bestwall and other asbestos products.
Workers performing maintenance, repair, or renovations may disturb old asbestos, causing exposure to loosened fibers. Demolition workers are particularly at risk as they stir up dust when demolishing buildings.
After years of exposure, workers and others began to file lawsuits against Bestwall Gypsum and Georgia Pacific. Thousands of asbestos-related lawsuits came flooding in from sick people who discovered they had been exposed through these companies or their products.
One famous case against Bestwall and Georgia Pacific came from Merlin Olsen, a mesothelioma victim, retired NFL player, and actor. In 2009, Olsen received a diagnosis of mesothelioma. He blamed time spent around products made by Georgia Pacific and Bestwall.
As a young teen, Olsen worked as a manual laborer. Later, he worked at NBC as a broadcaster and on television sets as an actor. In each occupation, Olsen claimed he had been exposed to asbestos products.
Unfortunately, Olsen passed away before he could settle the case; however, his wife continued the claim in his name and reached a settlement agreement in 2011.
Bestwall and Georgia Pacific have faced an assault of asbestos lawsuits brought by victims of exposure and illness. With the 2017 Bankruptcy of Bestwall, victims will soon be able to make claims through a trust. If you were exposed to asbestos through either company and became sick as a result, you may have a case.
A mesothelioma lawyer can help you file a lawsuit to get the compensation you need. Navigating the legal system can be complicated, confusing, and challenging; however, your chances of success increase with professional guidance.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Edited by Patient Advocate Dave Foster
Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.