For those of you who have been following the kitchen renovation thus far, you may have been impressed by the overall poise with which I have handled a series of events that has included hard physical labor, lots of construction dust, washing dishes in the shower, storing our refrigerator outdoors, more sodium (from take-out and easy meals) than my body has known how to process, and making lots of expensive decisions. I contacted Armstrong and found out the tile I had in my bathroom was produced in 1998 and did not contain any asbestos. I have vinyl sheet in my kitchen unit built in 1986, seems to have a white backing and is stuck directly onto the concrete. By the 1890s, Armstrong World Industries was the world’s largest cork company and leveraged its size and success to expand its product line.
Armstrong soon made insulating corkboard, fiberboard and other similar products. It also began a linoleum flooring business, which led to the production of vinyl and other flooring materials. Although this 20th century growth was profitable for Armstrong, use of asbestos in its products eventually led to its bankruptcy filing in 2000. The corporation had approximately $2.9 billion in revenue in 2011 and is the world’s largest manufacturer of hardwood flooring. Armstrong favored asbestos because of its resistance to heat and insulating properties.
Over the next few decades, thousands of new asbestos claims were brought against Armstrong and the company paid millions of dollars as courts ruled they knowingly disregarded the health of its employees and consumers by using asbestos in its products. For much of its history, the company included asbestos in insulation , cements, tiles, vinyl flooring and many other products. As a result, such products placed a number of construction jobs at risk for exposure.
As part of their emergence from bankruptcy and reorganization in 2006, Armstrong established the Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Trust, which was intended to settle all current and future asbestos-related claims. One of Armstrong’s products was Limpet, a spray-on insulation made almost entirely of asbestos. Armstrong then began manufacturing Armaspray, a similar spray-on insulation made of only 9 percent asbestos. To finish ongoing projects, however, Armaspray was used by Armstrong installers for another year. With the hazards of asbestos well understood, the company continued to manufacture and distribute asbestos products until the 1970s.
Executives failed to warn their employees about the dangers of asbestos and didn’t place warning labels on products containing the toxic mineral. On an analyst ratings scale from one to five where a one represents a Strong Buy and a five represents a Strong Sell, Armstrong World Industries Inc (NYSE:AWI) has a 2.55 rating on a consensus basis. The Company designs, manufactures and sells flooring products (resilient and wood) and ceiling systems (mineral fiber, fiberglass and metal) globally.