GAF, the General Aniline and Film Corporation, also known as G-I Holdings, is a roofing and construction materials company. GAF roofing and construction components used asbestos for years, leading to thousands of asbestos lawsuits. Eventually, GAF sought bankruptcy protection and reorganized with a trust fund to help pay asbestos claims.
GAF History and Asbestos
GAF Corporation originated as Standard Paint Company, founded in 1886. Standard Paint was headquartered in New Jersey.
- A chemist at Standard Paint developed new products for the company that helped it grow. These included the introduction of ready-to-lay asphalt roofing, called RU-BER-OID.
- Standard Paint also developed the use of small colored granules in roofing asphalt. The coating added colors to roofs and is still used today. Thanks to the success of its asphalt roofing products, Standard Paint changed its name to The Ruberoid Co. in 1921.
- In 1928, German dye company IG Farben organized its U.S. holdings into a company called American I.G. and then General Aniline & Film (GAF).
- During World War II, the United States government seized GAF due to its German connections. The government appointed directors to run the company.
- Unfortunately, these directors did not run the company well, causing the business to flounder. For many years patriotic consumers purchased products made by American manufacturers like Kodak and DuPont.
- In the 1960s, GAF acquired the roofing and building supply business Ruberoid. Ruberoid became a subsidiary eventually called GAF Corporation and G-I Holdings.
- This acquisition proved profitable during the construction boom of the 1980s. It also led to thousands of asbestos-related lawsuits due to liability from Ruberoid.
- Ruberoid used asbestos in many of its construction materials. GAF assumed liability for exposure caused by these products. GAF also assumed liability from Ruberoid’s asbestos mine in Virginia.
Although the asbestos mine shut down in the 1970s, GAF still faced thousands of lawsuits over asbestos exposure from the mine. Eventually, GAF was forced to file for bankruptcy protection in 2001.
How Did GAF Use Asbestos?
GAF used asbestos in several of its products. Asbestos was commonly used in manufacturing because it was inexpensive and readily available. It also resists heat, fire, chemical reactions, and electricity, making it an ideal insulator.
One of the industries with the heaviest asbestos use was construction. Ruberoid and GAF made many construction products from roofing to insulation and flooring. For several decades, these materials contained asbestos.
Ruberoid also owned an asbestos mine in Lowell, Vermont. The mine ceased operations in 1975, but some of the workers bought the mine and continued to operate it until 1993.
GAF Products That Contained Asbestos
GAF assumed responsibility for many asbestos-contaminated products, including:
- Asphalt roofing tiles
- Asphalt tiles
- Cement roofing shingles
- Insulating cement
- Roofing felt
- Pipe covering
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Wool felt
- Boiler jackets
- Asbestos fiber
- Roofing paint
- Watocell brand products
- Supercell brand products
- Ruberoid brand products
- Mined chrysotile asbestos
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure from GAF
GAF became liable for thousands of asbestos-related lawsuits filed by people who inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers that caused tissue damage. Eventually, this damage led to illnesses like mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other types of cancer in some people.
The acquisition of Ruberoid and its asbestos mine led to much of GAF’s asbestos liability. Miners, as well as those working or living near the mine, risked exposure. Ruberoid and GAF factory workers were also put at serious risk.
Ruberoid and GAF Employees
People employed to work in the manufacturing facilities that used asbestos to make construction materials also risked exposure.
Handling or even working near asbestos without proper protective equipment can lead to exposure. Fibers come loose, enter the air, and can be inhaled by anyone in the vicinity.
Workers in Other Industries
Others who worked with Ruberoid and GAF asbestos-containing products were also endangered:
- Construction workers
- Flooring installers
- HVAC workers
- Industrial workers
Also, anyone working in the area who was handling, removing, installing, and cutting asbestos products was put at risk.
Asbestos Lawsuits Against GAF
GAF eventually faced so many lawsuits the company filed for bankruptcy. Lawsuits were filed by company employees and tradespeople working with their products, but also by their surviving spouses.
Despite efforts to mitigate and settle claims, by 2000 GAF faced over 70,000 lawsuits. By 2001, the company had spent over $1 billion settling cases.
G-I Holdings Inc. Trust
GAF filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2001. After eight years, the company emerged reorganized. Part of its reorganization included a trust fund to cover current and future asbestos claims.
The G-I holdings Inc. Trust reduced its payment percentage in 2022 from 7.4% to 6%.
Asbestos Claims Facility
To help manage claims and lawsuits, GAF, along with other companies facing legal trouble, formed the Asbestos Claims Facility. This facility was meant to reduce settlement costs and provide an alternative to the court system, but several companies pulled out after disagreements over how to handle and pay claims.
The facility only lasted a few years. It was followed by the Center for Claims Resolution, which believed strongly in using an alternative to the legal system for settling claims.
What to Do if You Were Exposed to GAF Asbestos Products
If you think your asbestos-related illness, or the death of a spouse, is related to GAF, you can now file claims with the asbestos trust. Contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to help you navigate this often confusing process and help you receive the compensation you deserve.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.