Great Lakes Steel Employees: Asbestos Exposure Risk

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The Great Lakes Steel Works is a steelmaking and finishing plant located on the Detroit River in Ecorse, Michigan. The first mill on the site was built in 1929 by the National Steel Corporation.

Now owned by U.S. Steel (one of the largest steel companies in the world), it produces 3.8 million tons of raw steel per year, most of which is used by the automotive industry.

Great Lakes Steel also had operations on Zug Island, a heavily industrialized area in the city of River Rouge. Most of the steelmaking activities shut down in 2020, but part of the facilities are believed to still be in use.

Asbestos was used abundantly in steel mill manufacturing for much of the 20th century, and the Great Lakes Steel Works was no exception. It’s a naturally occurring carcinogen that has heat-resistant properties that make it useful in industrial settings that use extreme heat. Unfortunately, it’s also the main cause of serious diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer that can seriously impact your health and even become fatal.

If you worked at Great Lakes or another steel mill and have received an asbestos-related diagnosis, Serling & Abramson, P.C. can help. A Michigan-based law firm with 50+ years of experience, we have a long history of obtaining legal victories for local residents who spent time in unhealthy work sites. Let us review your case free of charge and provide a face-to-face connection to guide you through the process.

How Great Lakes Steel Workers Were Exposed To Asbestos

In Great Lakes Steel mills, asbestos was used heavily in everything from insulation and thermal protection to heat-proofing equipment.

In a steel mill, extremely high temperatures are needed to create, mold, temper, cast and weld various types of metal. Because workers were so close to these dangerous temperatures, they often wore thermal protection that contained asbestos materials, such as gloves, aprons, blankets, helmets, face masks and chaps.

While working on equipment or wearing protective gear, workers had no choice but to breathe in the asbestos fibers, pulling the microscopic particles into the deepest parts of their lungs where mesothelioma and lung cancer can begin to form.

These workers included:

  • Welders
  • Smelters
  • Blacksmiths
  • Foundry workers
  • Forge men
  • Iron workers
  • Tinsmiths
  • Sheet metal workers
  • Structural metal craftsmen
  • Pipefitters
  • Plumbers
  • Insulators
  • Boilermakers
  • Millwrights
  • Laborers
  • Bricklayers
  • Electricians
  • Carpenters
  • And more

If you worked in one of these roles at Great Lakes or a different steel mill, you may have been at serious risk of asbestos exposure. Reach out to Serling & Abramson, P.C. for a free review of your case.

Other Steel Mills Where Workers May Have Been Exposed

  • McLouth
  • J&L Steel
  • Ford Rouge Steel
  • Mill Steel
  • Dearborn Works

And others

Signs of Asbestos Exposure

The most severe illness associated with asbestos exposure is mesothelioma. It’s a cancer that forms on the protective lining covering the lungs, abdomen and organs in the thoracic cavity.

Mesothelioma takes a long time to develop: usually between 20 and 50 years after the first exposure. Common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Buildup of fluid in the lungs or abdomen
  • Pleural effusion
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Chest pain, especially after exertion
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Abdominal pain
  • Painful coughing
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest or abdomen

Note: Mesothelioma can sometimes be misdiagnosed. Discussing your work history with your doctor can help lead them to a proper diagnosis.

Various types of lung cancer are also caused by exposure to asbestos. Just like with mesothelioma, when inhaled, asbestos fibers lodge in the lung tissue. Over time, this can contribute to the development of lung cancer.

Common lung cancer symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A cough that won’t go away (or gets worse)
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Infections that won’t go away or keep coming back (such as bronchitis or pneumonia)
  • Wheezing

Note: Victims of asbestos-related lung cancer often suffer from non-cancerous asbestosis, a non-malignant scarring of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. This can happen before their lung cancer develops — sometimes 20 years or more after the initial exposure.

Things Only Experts Know To Ask

Because we have extensive experience representing workers with asbestos-related illnesses like the ones that were exposed at Great Lakes Steel, the attorneys at Serling & Abramson, P.C. know what to look for to help your case. For example:

Was anyone else in your home exposed to asbestos as a result of your employment? Your spouse could have breathed in asbestos dust while doing laundry or handling your work clothes. If they’ve been diagnosed with a related illness, let us know.

Have you already filed a suit against a steel mill — but have new symptoms? Having an illness that’s related to your previous one means you may have grounds for a “second disease” case. Let Serling & Abramson, P.C. review the details and discuss your options.