Granite City is a section of Illinois that has been struggling to grow and expand since experiencing a slowdown in economic growth during the 1970's. Today new businesses are opening or being revitalized, such as US Steel mill on the eastern side of town.
The facility that is operated by US Steel was formerly known as Granite City Steel. That plant was built in the mid 1900's, and quickly became a thriving source of industry in Illinois. As the city itself and employment opportunities grew, people flocked to Illinois and joined the workforce. Working at a steel mill came with certain dangers, and the people who hired on at the mill were well aware of that. They were not, however, aware of another serious risk they would be facing every day while on the job.
Like most other steel mills, Granite City Steel utilized various products that contained the mineral known as asbestos. These items, such as heavy duty insulation, were used to keep equipment and employees safe from excessive heat and potential fires. Workers spent a great deal of time around the products that were made out of asbestos, never knowing that they key ingredient was a poisonous substance that could affect the rest of their lives.
Asbestos is made up of microscopic fibers, and they can break off and float in the air. This is especially common when the mineral was placed inside insulation and other goods that were forced to endure a large amount of stress. When these fibers get into the air they are easy to inhale, and since they are too small to be seen, workers would breathe them in and not even realize it. In fact, most people would not be aware that they had ingested a hazardous material for many years or even decades.
Once asbestos fibers have been inhaled, they can cause a tremendous amount of damage, but the process is very slow. People may not show any symptoms of this damage for 20 years or more, at which time the disease may be already be in advanced stages. The fibers cling to the human respiratory system and can slowly produce chronic breathing disorders and lung cancer. One of the most well known and dreaded cancerous diseases victims of asbestos exposure tend to develop is mesothelioma, and that can be a killer.
Workers who spent time at Granite City Steel could easily have been inhaling small amounts of asbestos every day. If you or someone you know were employed there at any point while these hazardous goods were in use, notify your doctor for a checkup at your earliest convenience. The mesothelioma survival rate has been known to be discouraging, yet early diagnosis and treatments such as mesothelioma radiation may help improve the prognosis for this disease.