Acme Metals (Riverdale)

Acme Metals, based out of Riverdale, Illinois, was first created in 1918. Since that time, there were many changes that the company went through, choosing to focus on the production of carbon steel, which is the combined product of iron and carbon. Acme Metals itself is a combination, being made up of Acme Steel Company and Acme Packaging. Acme Steel Company created steel from iron ore, while Acme Packaging produced products from steel, most of which were strips and rolls of steel sold to manufacturers.

Throughout its operation, Acme Metals employed over a thousand most years. However, September of 1998 saw the company having to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of restrictions from the North American Free Trade Agreement. The company was then purchased by International Steel Group during the bankruptcy, a process that was completed in August of 2002. Various parts of the company were then packaged and sold off to other producers.

Acme Metals provided a great deal of jobs to a large number of workers in the Riverdale area. The work often seemed much safer than related occupations such as mining. Unfortunately, like most companies that dealt with exposure to heat and electricity, the company used asbestos as an insulator. Asbestos was held in high regard as a safety material because of its ability to insulate against heat and electricity, and its resistance to fire. Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, not an artificial toxin. This may have played a part in why it was widely believed to be harmless. It is undoubtedly true that asbestos helped keep the workplace safe in the short term by insulating against fire and electricity. However, the long term consequences make it extremely dangerous.

Unfortunately, the fibers of the mineral are easily inhaled, especially after broken down by extreme heat, then resting dormant inside the lining of the lungs for many years. The crystals in the fiber eventually cause cancerous cells to develop, resulting in a rare and serious cancer referred to as mesothelioma. By the time that the symptoms of mesothelioma become apparent, it is almost always impossible to prevent death at the hands of the disease. Treatment instead focuses on increasing lifespan or reducing the burdens of the disease. In most cases, patients who are diagnosed with the disease will not survive past the next two years, although there are some circumstances in which patients have been known to live longer than this.