Unarco, located in Bloomington, IL, was originally known as the Union Asbestos & Rubber Company. The material they used primarily in all of their products was a naturally occurring mineral. While it was looked up to as an extremely beneficial resource for years, asbestos was eventually found to be toxic, and a severe health threat to anyone who gets near it.
Proximity becomes an issue when dealing with asbestos because it is made up of tiny fibers, or dust particles that can float in the air and can not be seen by the human eye. Individuals who get close to these fibers are likely to breathe them in without even realizing it. Once they are taken internally, the fibers can be very destructive to the respiratory system, and develop into a life threatening type of asbestos cancer called mesothelioma. These are serious medical conditions that have claimed the lives of millions of people. To assist those that have been diagnosed with this disease we have provided a listing of top mesothelioma clinics across the country, a mesothelioma treatment guide and a mesothelioma resources page with helpful links. Even though mesothelioma often has an unfavorable prognosis there are leading doctors like Dr. David Sugarbaker that can do a lot to improve quality of life for those suffering with the illness.
Lawsuits began to be created against Union Asbestos for using a material that was dangerous to humans. Enough personal injury claims were brought against the company that they declared bankruptcy in 1982. As part of the proceedings, Union Asbestos (by then known as UNR Industries) changed their name to Unarco Commercial Products. A trust fund was also set up to pay off the remaining asbestos-related personal injury claims.
In 2007 a Bloomington based family sued Unarco, stating that a member of the family who worked for the company during the mid 1960's had passed away from Mesothelioma. John Watkins was the victim of this tragedy, and his family members pursued Unarco for a large settlement. During the investigation of this matter, Unarco was accused of not only continuing to utilize asbestos materials after they had been declared to be dangerous, but for attempting to keep this information secret from their employees and customers. Members of the jury listened to all of the details, and came up with their decision in under four hours. The result was a $2.6 million pay out to the Watkins family.
Unarco continues to operate today. In 1962, they purchased the Folding Carrier Corporation, which manufacturers various models of shopping carts. The company is now based in Wagoner, Oklahoma and no asbestos is used in any of their manufacturing processes.