With Chicago as a major transportation hub for both rail and shipping, the state of Illinois became a leader in this country’s industrial revolution. Along with the railroads came the steel industry with mills and foundries. The shipping industry brought Illinois the United States Great Lakes Naval Base that was used to train navy seamen. As the population of Chicago and the entire state of Illinois grew with the boom in heavy industry, power plants opened throughout the state.

Workers in Illinois’ heavy industry were exposed to asbestos for most of the twentieth century. Machinery and equipment in mills, plants, and foundries were heavily insulated; asbestos was used as a fire retardant throughout industry; and many workers even wore asbestos gloves and safety suits. Likewise, asbestos materials were heavily used in tankers, and in the shipyards that serviced them. As a result, Illinois industrial workers are at a high risk for mesothelioma.

Although the Great Lakes Naval Base was not a shipbuilding and repair facility, navy personnel were routinely exposed to asbestos while stationed and training there. Pipes, boilers, valves, and equipment on Navy vessels were heavily insulated with asbestos.

Asbestos was also used in other Illinois industries. Chemical plants, the automobile industry, and petroleum refineries all made extensive use of asbestos. Tragically, many Illinois workers also brought asbestos home on their clothes without realizing it. These workers and their families are at a heightened risk of mesothelioma.


Below is a list of occupations that put Illinois workers at a known risk of asbestos exposure. If you worked in one of these occupations in the 1980s or earlier, there is a good chance that you were exposed to asbestos:

  • Aircraft Mechanics & Repairmen
  • Automobile Mechanics
  • Boilermakers
  • Chemical Plant Workers
  • Construction Workers
  • Electricians
  • Foundry Workers
  • Industrial Plant Workers
  • Insulators
  • Longshoremen and Stevedores
  • Oil Refinery Workers
  • Pipefitters
  • Plasterers
  • Power Plant Workers
  • Railroad Workers
  • Sheetmetal Workers
  • Shipyard Workers
  • U.S. Navy Veterans
  • Welders


The following is a list of some of the Illinois job sites where there is a documented use of asbestos products. If you or a family member worked at one of these places, you may be at a heightened risk of asbestos disease.

If you believe that you may have been exposed to asbestos at your own job, please contact a mesothelioma attorney for more information. There are many other job sites in Illinois where asbestos was used.

Steel Industry

  • ACME Steel
  • Alcoa Aluminum
  • American Steel
  • American Zinc Co. of Illinois
  • Federal Steel
  • General Steel Industries
  • Inland Metals Refining Co.
  • Monarch Foundry Company
  • National Lead Company
  • U.S. Steel
  • Vulcan Mold & Iron Co.

Power Plants

  • Baldwin Powerhouse
  • Bechtel Power
  • Dresden Nuclear Power Plant
  • Commonwealth Edison
  • Illinois Power Co.
  • Quad Cities Nuclear Power Plant

Petroleum and Oil Refineries

  • Amoco Oil
  • Marathon Oil
  • Mobil Oil
  • Phillips Petroleum
  • Sinclair Oil Refinery
  • Texaco Oil
  • Union Oil Co.
  • Standard Oil Co.

Chemical Industry

  • Dow Chemical
  • Monsanto Co.
  • Northern Petrochemical Co.
  • Allied Chemical
  • Stephen Chemical Co.

Automobile and Automotive-Related Industry

  • Borg-Warner
  • Firestone Tire & Rubber
  • Ford Motor Co.

Other Industry

  • AE Staley Manufacturing
  • Allis Chalmers
  • Burlington Northern, Inc.
  • Caterpillar Tractor
  • Celotex Corp.
  • Chicago Burlington & Quincy RR Co.
  • Contracting & Material Co.
  • Crane Co.
  • International Harvester
  • John Deere East Moline Works
  • John Deere Harvestor Works
  • Jones Optical Co.
  • McMaster Carr Supply Co.
  • Monterey Coal Co.
  • Moorman Mfg. Co.
  • Owens Illinois Glass Co.
  • Proctor & Gamble Co.
  • Quincy Farm Supply
  • Rural King Supply
  • Tractors Supply Co.
  • Texaco Inc.
  • Uniroyal
  • Uniroyal Manufacturing Unit
  • Wateska Rural King Supply


The high levels of asbestos used in Illinois industries have taken their toll on the health of Illinois workers, who have one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the country. Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer of the lining of the lungs and abdomen, which is caused by asbestos exposure.

Like other asbestos diseases, mesothelioma has a long latency period. This means that a person usually develops mesothelioma long after the initial exposure to asbestos – usually between 10 to 50 years later. Due to this latency period, the number of Illinois mesothelioma deaths continues to rise even though asbestos is seldom used in Illinois today.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were 892 mesothelioma deaths in Illinois from 1999 to 2005. This ranks Illinois as the sixth highest state in the country for mesothelioma deaths during this time span.


If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and you believe you were exposed to asbestos in Illinois, it is important that you contact a skilled attorney with experience in asbestos litigation. In addition, time is of the essence, because you have a limited amount of time to file suit.

We urge you to contact one of our mesothelioma lawyers for a free consultation. We can help you investigate the sources of your exposure, and determine what companies were responsible.