Chicago Heights Steel produces hot-rolled rail steel which is used to make sign posts, construction materials, gardening tools and other goods. The company was formed in the early 1900's and quickly became a well known steel manufacturer in Chicago, Illinois.
Because of their success, Chicago Heights Steel employed a large number of people over the years. These workers understood and dealt with the dangers that are present in every industrial setting, but they also experienced a threat that they were completely unaware of. While on duty, the Illinois based steel workers spent time around products that were made out asbestos, a mineral that is found in large natural deposits all across the United States. The fact that this mineral is toxic was largely unknown prior to the 1970's, so people worked with and around it for many years before realizing they were actually in close proximity to a hazardous substance.
When people are near any item that is made out of asbestos, they are very likely to breathe in small bits of the material without realizing it. The mineral is made up of fibers that are far too small to be seen by the human eye or noticed when they are taken in through the nasal passages. After the fibers are inhaled, they latch on to the respiratory system where they can cause a great deal of destruction over the course of many years. It's not unusual for signs of the damage to take more than a decade to be noticed, and by then the victims are often suffering from serious illnesses such as asbestosis or mesothelioma. These conditions are incurable and have led to the death of many unfortunate people.
Asbestos exposure is very serious, and has affected people all over the world. Those who worked at job sites like Chicago Heights Steel spent a great deal of time around the poisonous substance and may have been made very ill because of it. Even people who stopped working at this facility long ago could still be at risk, so if you were ever employed at this site, please contact your doctor immediately to schedule a thorough checkup.