General Electric Co. (Fairfield)

As a combination of the Thomson Houston Electric Company and the Edison General Electric Company, General Electric has been one of the most dominant companies in the US for over 100 years. When Thomas Edison organized his business it quickly became popular, but he needed to combine with the Thomas Houston outfit to maintain efficiency. Since 1896 the business has been producing electric equipment that continually meets the needs of modern times. As time went by, the company began taking over many smaller operations and is actually the only remaining business from that time period. When it took over the National Electric Lamp Association, the company built the first ever industrial park in the state of Ohio. To do this day, this headquarters remains the epicenter of business functions for the company. By the 1960’s the business was competing in the new computer industry and has become one of the leading international media groups on the planet. Unfortunately, not all of the company’s history is steeped with positive stories. A common practice for industrial operations during the early to late 20th century was to use asbestos. It was a great material for companies that needed to protect their workers and equipment from caustic chemicals and extreme temperatures. This immediate protection would later lead many people to develop an asbestos related disease. The two most common are mesothelioma and asbestosis. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the protective membranes of many organs within the body. Asbestosis is a less fatal disease, but can have severe consequences as well. By the mid to late 1970’s the national awareness of asbestos as a toxin came to the forefront. The Federal Government would actually end up banning its use in entirety. Workers who had already been exposed remained at risk of developing mesothelioma, asbestosis or other related diseases. Since the material was widely used to insulate wiring and other fragile equipment within production plants, many workers were constantly exposed to high levels of dust. Not everybody who comes into contact with asbestos will get sick. In reality, only a small percentage of people will develop complications. For individuals that do get sick, it can take many decades for mesothelioma or asbestosis to actually develop. By this point many previous employees don't recognize that it was their previous exposure to asbestos that is causing their current symptoms.