Foseco made foundry products with asbestos and supplied many industrial worksites, like steel mills. Workers who made or worked with Foseco products may have been exposed to asbestos. Some of those developed illnesses like mesothelioma and lung cancer and sued the company.
Foseco History and Asbestos
Foseco, short for Foundry Service Company, was founded in 1932 in the United Kingdom by Eric Weiss to serve the growing foundry industry. It initially operated out of a single room but quickly grew by offering new products and acquiring other companies.
- In 1946, Foseco published its first Foundryman’s Handbook. By 1948, the company had developed innovative new foundry products like FEEDEX powder that reduced cleaning costs in the industry.
- In 1960, Foseco introduced the exothermic sleeve, a product that lowered the amount of metal used in foundry processes. The company continued developing innovative foundry products, including filters.
- In 1916, at the height of the American steel boom, Vesuvius began operating in Pittsburgh. The company made crucibles for foundries. Cookson Group bought Foseco in 2008, which is when it became a subsidiary of Vesuvius.
- Foseco and Vesuvius, like similar manufacturing companies, used asbestos in many of their products. Foseco subsidiaries were regular customers of North American Asbestos Corporation, buying asbestos fibers to incorporate into foundry products.
Unlike other asbestos companies, Foseco never filed for bankruptcy protection in spite of numerous asbestos-related lawsuits. It remains a part of Vesuvius today.
Asbestos Use by Foseco
Foundry work involves heating and manipulating metals and other substances, then casting those substances to make products. The industry uses extreme temperatures, requiring materials that can insulate and protect against fire. It also requires materials that will not break or deteriorate under intense heat.
These extreme conditions make asbestos a natural choice for the industry. Asbestos is a natural material with a variety of useful characteristics. It is abundant, inexpensive, and resists high temperatures. Asbestos also resists fire, chemical reactions, corrosion, and electricity.
It is strong and can be added to materials to make them more durable. Most of these properties made asbestos an ideal ingredient in Foseco’s foundry products.
Foseco Products Made with Asbestos
Foseco patented a product that it manufactured called a hot top. A hot top was a piece of metal used to help maintain the temperature of molten steel. It was also useful for capturing steel impurities as the metal cooled and solidified. Hot tops needed to withstand extreme heat, so Foseco crafted them with embedded asbestos.
In addition to hot tops, Foseco made several other products with asbestos:
- Die castings
- Heat bricks
- Molding sand
- Furnace linings
- Permanent mold coatings
- Asbestos boards
- Exothermic riser sleeves
- Ladle liners
Who Was at Risk of Asbestos Exposure by Foseco?
Foseco used several factories to manufacture the products with asbestos, including one in Cleveland, where company headquarters were eventually located.
The patent for one of Foseco’s products, the hot top insulation, described nearly 5% each of amosite and chrysotile asbestos, much more than the acceptable limit eventually set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Because asbestos was used in such abundance, Foseco’s factory workers were regularly put at risk of exposure and resulting sickness. Factory workers mixed asbestos into materials, risking inhaling the created asbestos dust.
Inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers leads to tissue damage in the lungs and other parts of the body, ultimately causing asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
Foundry workers who used Foseco products were also put at serious risk of exposure and illness. Workers commonly experienced asbestos exposure through Foseco’s hot tops. These plates, used in steel foundries, often had to be replaced.
Studies have confirmed that metal manufacturing and foundry workers have higher rates of asbestos-related illnesses and deaths.
Did Foseco Know About the Dangers of Asbestos?
North American Asbestos Corporation was an important supplier to Foseco. In 1964, the company’s scientific advisor sent a letter to a purchasing agent at Foseco. The letter warned about the association between asbestos exposure and lung cancer. Foseco continued using asbestos.
In the 1970s, several steel plants that bought Foseco products, including Bethlehem Steel and Republic Steel, shared concerns about asbestos. Foseco downplayed the risks and only stopped using asbestos in the late 1970s.
Asbestos Lawsuits against Foseco
Foseco has been the defendant in numerous lawsuits over asbestos exposure and illness. The evidence of the potential harm of asbestos in the foundry industry has been important in lawsuits.
- In 2013, a jury in California awarded a family nearly $40 million for the wrongful death of Secundino Medina. Medina died from mesothelioma after working with asbestos products made by Foseco and other companies.
- James T. Binion worked with Foseco products between 1962 and 2004. He later developed lung cancer and is suing Foseco and other asbestos product companies for their failure to warn workers of the risks associated with asbetos.
Despite the thousands of asbestos lawsuits Foseco faced, the company managed to survive without needing bankruptcy protection.
Foseco also did not have to establish an asbestos trust fund to compensate victims and cover future claims. Anyone with a claim against the company must take legal action to seek compensation.
What to Do if You Were Exposed to Foseco Asbestos Products
Let an experienced mesothelioma lawyer help you make your case and get the compensation you deserve. They will review your case for free, determine all companies responsible for exposure, and guide you through the necessary legal steps. Act soon because asbestos lawsuits have a statute of limitations.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Written by Mary Ellen Ellis
Mary Ellen Ellis has been the head writer for Mesothelioma.net since 2016. With hundreds of mesothelioma and asbestos articles to her credit, she is one of the most experienced writers on these topics. Her degrees and background in science and education help her explain complicated medical topics for a wider audience. Mary Ellen takes pride in providing her readers with the critical information they need following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness.
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.