Allied Metal Co. (Chicago)

The Allied Metal Company, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, is one of the world's largest smelters of aluminum. They also produce a number of zinc alloys, including Zamak and zinc-aluminum. Since the company was founded in 1953, they have been a leader in manufacturing techniques, earning them a reputation for high quality products. Currently, Allied Metal operates three production facilities in Chicago, which specialize in aluminum and zinc ingots. A fourth plant, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, produces zinc products exclusively. Aluminum is produced using the natural substance alumina, which is mined throughout the world, gathered in its raw form from bauxite mines. Alumina is dissolved in a solution and subjected to electric current, with the result being a pure high-grade aluminum. Several byproducts are exhausted during the procedure, including carbon dioxide and hydrogen fluoride. These gases are hazardous to human health, and the hydrogen fluoride is also a corrosive agent, requiring sensitive equipment be protected with plastic coverings. The accumulated aluminum is attached to the cathode used in the smelting process, and is gathered to form the finished product. Zinc production involves a similar process, whereby the raw material is subjected to high heat and the pure zinc is extracted from large kettles of molten material. Allied Metal Company has contracts with manufacturers around the globe to produce an astounding number of different aluminum and zinc products for the construction industry, home and office appliances, house wares, sporting equipment and toy parts. They operate a modern distribution center at each of their four production facilities and deliver finished aluminum to shipping companies directly from their loading docks. Like many production facilities, Allied Metals used asbestos in the mid to late 20th century, primarily as an insulating compound. Manufacturing of metals from raw ore involves high heat, and companies found that asbestos was an ideal shield against unwanted heat transfer. It was installed in wallsceilings, and as a wrap for pipes and a cover material for boilers. Asbestos fibers were often woven into protective clothing for employees that were exposed to the terrific heat in Allied Metals smelting facilities. However, when damaged by heat and normal wear, these fibers were released and either inhaled by workers or attached to employee clothing and hair, resulting in long-term exposure for countless men and women and their families. Asbestos is known to cause several types of benign and malignant cancerous growths. The rare but serious condition known as mesothelioma is the result of asbestos exposure, and the symptoms of this disease often do not show for decades after exposure, making it both difficult to diagnose and treat.