Aurora is the second largest city in Illinois, with a population of nearly 200,000 residents and currently one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the United States. It was one of the first cities in the nation to install a streetlight system powered completely by electric power and, for a time, was a city with a considerable amount of manufacturing. Although Aurora’s economy is less dependent on heavy industry than in the past, many people who work and live in the city suffered exposure to asbestos. A significant number of these victims have died or are suffering from the symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses such as asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma.
If you or someone you love have been a victim to mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in Aurora, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more.
Asbestos in Aurora
Located in DuPage, Kane, Kendall, and Will counties, Aurora straddles the banks of the Fox River. Aurora is sited 42 miles to the west-southwest of Chicago and is part of the outer edges of the Greater Chicago metropolitan area. The first settlers of European descent arrived in the area in 1834 with the intention of setting up a sawmill. This was the first step in the industrialization of Aurora.
Founded in 1857 when two separate settlements on either side of the Fox merged, Aurora attracted many manufacturing enterprises due to its ideal location for water- and steam-powered facilities. Textile production was the city’s first economic lynchpin. Later, foundries, machine shops, and heavy industry were established.
As in most of the Midwest, Aurora’s growth and development was spurred by the westward expansion of the nation’s railway system. In 1849, 8 years before Aurora’s official founding, the Chicago, Quincy & Burlington Railroad extended its line there. Aurora became the company’s main source for new railcars and the site of its principal repair facilities. The Chicago, Quincy & Burlington company built the nation’s largest stone roundhouse as part of its railroad repair operations. Consequently, the railroad became the city’s largest employer until the 1960s.
By the 1970s, however, many of Aurora’s heavy industries were gone due to the overall decline of manufacturing in the U.S. Today, the city’s economy is more diverse. Healthcare, warehousing, and the distribution of consumer goods have are the major drivers of commerce in the community. Yet, Aurora still retains some of its traditional connections to manufacturing; Peoria-based Caterpillar, maker of tractors. bulldozers, and other heavy machinery, has a plant in Aurora. With 2,500 employees, the Caterpillar plant is the city’s largest employer.
Aurora’s long history as a traditional manufacturing community helped the city grow and prosper. Nevertheless, the benefits that came to Aurora as it became a modern American city were offset by the effects of heavy use of asbestos. . Starting when the McCarty brothers set up the area’s first sawmill, asbestos was introduced into nearly all of Aurora’s industrial job sites. Asbestos-based parts were considered necessary in most of the machinery to reduce the risk of fires caused by friction-related sparks.
Asbestos and ACMs were also used as building materials, not just in manufacturing facilities or the power plants that would earn Aurora the nickname “City of Lights,” but in general construction. As in heavy manufacturing and transportation, large-scale use of ACMs was encouraged by the asbestos industry as a safe and inexpensive method of making buildings and even consumer goods fireproof and insulated from heat and cold. Most of the large asbestos companies, including W.R. Grace and the Johns Manville Corporation, continued to market their product as harmless and essential to public safety even when they saw medical data that proved otherwise.
The consequences to Aurora and countless other American communities was tragic. Asbestos was everywhere, even in areas where no naturally-occurring deposits existed. Since asbestos was used in a wide range of industries and consumer products until the federal government regulated its use in the 1980s, every American is still at risk of some exposure. ACMs were used in most of the homes, public buildings, and work sites built between 1930 and 1979. In cases where no renovations have been made, asbestos is still present in these structures.
Caterpillar Incorporated Plant at Aurora
As mentioned earlier, Aurora’s economy is not as dependent on manufacturing jobs as it was before the 1970s. However, Caterpillar Incorporated provides approximately 2,500 jobs in the community, making it Aurora’s largest employer.
Although Caterpillar transferred many of the Aurora plant’s track feller buncher manufacturing operations to its LaGrange, Georgia plant in 2005, the facility is still an important asset to the company. Caterpillar designs its medium- and large-sized wheel loaders in Aurora. Medium wheel loaders (MWLs) are assembled in Aurora and five other Caterpillar facilities around the world; large wheel loaders (LWLs) are built exclusively by workers in Aurora.
As recently as 2001, Caterpillar used asbestos in machinery and vehicle parts susceptible to the effects of friction. The most common parts included brake pads, clutches, and gaskets. When brake pads and other parts made with ACMs wear out over time, asbestos particles get into the environment where equipment operators and other workers can inhale them. In addition, workers at the Aurora plant’s assembly lines constantly handled asbestos-loaded vehicle parts, placing themselves and their families at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases.
Caterpillar now uses asbestos substitutes in its manufactured goods, but ACMs are still present in older models of tractors, wheel loaders, and other items in its product line. Thus, although the company’s asbestos-substitution efforts may reduce the number of mesothelioma cases in the future, thousands of Caterpillar’s older products still operate in job sites around the world.
Aurora Job Sites Where Asbestos Exposure Occurred
Aurora’s past as a manufacturing hub in the Greater Chicago area, as well as the widespread use asbestos-derived products in construction, includes the 130-year-long period in which the asbestos industry was at the height of its dominance and influence. As a result, a multitude of Aurora job sites are known to have used or stored large quantities of asbestos or ACMs and exposed thousands of residents to toxic asbestos fibers.
- Alba Manufacturing Inc.
- Aurora Paper Board Co.
- Aurora Street Railway
- Thor Power Tool Co.
- St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
- Fox River Light, Heat, and Power
- C.E. Refractories
- Western United Gas and Electric Company
Medical Help in Aurora
If you have been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, there are several cancer treatment centers that provide medical care and other services in and around Aurora, including:
Edward Hospital Multi-Disciplinary Thoracic Oncology Clinic
120 Spalding Drive, Suite 111
Naperville, IL 60540
Phone: (630) 527-3788
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
1336 Basswood Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Phone: (800) 615-3055
Rush University Cancer Center
1725 W. Harrison St.
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: (312) 738-3732
University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (888) 824-0200
Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
675 North St. Clair, 21st Floor
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 695-0990
CTCA Midwestern Regional Medical Center
2520 Elisha Avenue
Zion, IL 60099
Phone: (847) 872-4561
Legal Help and Additional Information
Remember, if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for significant compensation. Fill out our from to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on leading asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers in your area. For questions and assistance, feel free to contact us at 800-793-4540.