Jacksonville, Florida is home to the steel mill owned by AmeriSteel. The company is the fourth largest steel producer in North America, and has grown steadily since being founded in 1937. Originally it was known as Florida Steel, but after purchasing several more facilities in several other states the name was officially changed to AmeriSteel. Later still the name became Gerdau AmeriSteel after the company was taken over by Gerdau SA.
Steel workers in the sunshine state have worked hard to make AmeriSteel a great success. They operate machinery that can be dangerous if not handled properly, and spend time in close proximity to potentially hazardous items. One hazard that they were not aware of was a poisonous material that was found in abundance throughout their work site. The material in question was asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was used as a base for insulation and hundreds of other products in the United States before being recognized as a health risk.
When asbestos was first discovered in America, it was immediately recognized as an advantageous resource that could be used to create a vast array of goods. The mineral is very strong and durable, can me molded into most any shape and is able to hold up under the hottest temperatures. On top of that it is also able to help stop the spread of small fires, making it perfect for insulation and other products. Unfortunately, it took nearly a century before most people were made aware of the dangers that came with asbestos.
As the employees at AmeriSteel labored around the asbestos based products, they were unwittingly inhaling trace amounts of the mineral. Microscopic asbestos fibers would break off and get into the air, and since they were far too small to be seen no one even knew that they were breathing them in. As the fibers are inhaled, they will cling to healthy tissue inside the respiratory system and remain there indefinitely. Slowly, over may years, the asbestos creates a large amount of internal decay which often produces respiratory disorders and asbestos cancer. Two of the best known results of exposure to the toxic mineral are asbestosis and mesothelioma, both of which cause victims to become seriously ill, and sometimes even claim their lives.
Jacksonville's steel mill has been a place of employment for hundreds of individuals, and many of them were afflicted by the presence of goods that were made out of asbestos. To make the situation even worse is the fact that these illnesses are extremely difficult to treat and do not have any cure. If you or anyone you know worked at Ameristeel in Florida, notify your doctor about your possible exposure to asbestos immediately.