The Federal-Mogul Corporation of Southfield, Michigan is a maker of automotive engine parts and safety products. The company has been in business since 1899, when it was founded as the Muzzy-Lyon Company. Today it is a global company that employs more than 45,000 people in more than 30 countries.
More specifically, Federal-Mogul makes transmission components, brake and chassis components, ignition elements, pistons, bearings, systems protection components, sealing products, bushings, heatshields, and systems protection products. When it was originally founded, the company made rubber goods and supplies for mills, but moved into the bearings business and landed Buick as a client in the early 1900s.
By the 1980s, the company was so successful that it was supplying NASA with products for the Space Shuttle program, and revenues were more than $6 billion by the 1990s. Throughout the years, there were several name changes for what is today known as Federal-Mogul. In the 1920s, Muzzy-Lyon used the name Mogul Metal Company for a subsidiary. In 1924, the name Federal-Mogul was first established, but in 1955, the company became Federal-Mogul-Bower Bearings, Inc. after a merger. Ten years later, it returned to the Federal-Mogul name.
Throughout the years of its business, products made by Federal-Mogul often demanded strong insulation, particularly those meant to function in the high heat of an engine environment. Federal-Mogul, for an extended period of time and in many types of products, chose asbestos as an insulating agent, and as a result many workers who were part of the company’s supply chain experienced significant exposure to the substance. Exposure potential was particularly high in Federal-Mogul’s case because of the broad application of their products, which could be found in cars, homes, industrial applications, and more. Asbestos was considered a good insulating agent because of the way it withstood heat, but the downside was that over time it would crumble, and cause inhalable particles to float into the air like dust.
Some of the types of workers that were experience asbestos exposure from working with Federal-Mogul’s products included auto mechanics, some aerospace technicians and workers, railroad and rail yard workers, insulators and welders, and a variety of people in other fields.