Kalamazoo is sited in the southwestern part of Michigan. It is the main city in the Kalamazoo-Portage Metropolitan Area, Although Kalamazoo has a diverse economy which includes brewing and the manufacture of spices and food flavoring, the city was, like many cities in Michigan, heavily industrialized. Throughout most of the 20th Century, companies operating in Kalamazoo manufactured windmill parts, paper products, musical instruments and, for a brief time, automobiles. The area’s past history as a manufacturing center has left a sad legacy of asbestos-related illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, among a large cross section of residents who were exposed to asbestos at work or in homes built with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
If you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos and suffer from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible to receive substantial compensation. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top mesothelioma lawyers in Kalamazoo, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more.
Asbestos in Kalamazoo
The city of Kalamazoo was founded in 183o by Titus Bronson, the first non-Native American settler to build a permanent residence there. The small community was originally named after Bronson, but in 1836 the city was renamed Kalamazoo. The Michigan and Huron College (later renamed as Kalamazoo College) was chartered in 1833, and the forerunner to the Kalamazoo Gazette newspaper was founded in 1835.
The expansion of America’s railroad system into the Kalamazoo area began the city’s long association with heavy industries. When Kalamazoo gained a connection to the Michigan Central Railway, it partially contributed to an economic boom in the community. Celery farmers in the area around Kzoo, as the city is affectionately known, could offer their products to markets beyond Michigan, and new residents, including immigrants from several European countries, found jobs in the various paper mills which sprang up in and around the city. These mills and their wide array of paper products earned Kalamazoo another nickname, “Paper City.”
By the turn of the 20th Century, these major industries were joined by others that are associated with the modern United States. Electricity and telephone services began operating in Kalamazoo in the 1880s, and by the 1900s the city was a major producer of windmill parts, musical instruments, carriages, corsets, stoves, fishing reels, beer, and pharmaceuticals.
Several local entrepreneurs also established automobile factories in an effort to make Kalamazoo a car town like Detroit, but none succeeded and the last locally-owned auto factory in the area closed in 1928. In 1966, General Motors attempted to bring back automobile production to Kalamazoo when it opened a body plant in nearby Fisher along Interstate Highway 94. However, GM’s efforts had only modest results, and as in many other Michigan communities affected by the decline of the domestic auto industry, Kalamazoo’s work force took a hit when the Fisher plant closed in 1994.
Along with construction and power generating companies, the majority of these industries thrived at a time when asbestos companies were at the peak of their influence and financial success. Their profit margin was based on heavy industry’s demand for asbestos, a group of six fibrous silicate minerals found throughout much of the world.
Asbestos minerals possess certain properties that are useful in several types of industrial processes or finished products, including resistance to fire and high temperatures, electrical currents, and a variety of chemical reactions.
Asbestos use in Kalamazoo reached its highest point in the middle part of the 20th Century even as the fortunes of local industries waxed and waned. The city’s breweries closed operations for almost 21 years as a result of Prohibition, but builders, auto repair shops, paper mills, electric power plants, railroads, and pharmaceutical companies were active in both boom and bust economic periods.
The Great Depression, World War II, and the postwar economic expansion that shaped the nation coincided with the asbestos industry’s era of dominance.
However, large numbers of Kalamazoo’s residents were exposed to dangerous asbestos fibers. The most seriously affected were people that worked in job sites where large amounts of ACMs were present. Others were exposed in houses and apartments which were made from asbestos-based building materials, such as roofing and siding shingles, insulation, and vinyl floor panels.
Even in the 21st Century, long after builders stopped using ACMs to construct new homes, the danger of asbestos exposure persists. People who live in residences built in Kalamazoo between 1930 and 1980 are at risk of developing mesothelioma and asbestosis, especially if they disturb asbestos deposits by removing old insulation or doing renovation work.
Asbestos-Related Job Sites in Kalamazoo
Due to the presence of several heavy industries in and around the city which used ACMs in their facilities, thousands of Kalamazoo residents were exposed to asbestos in places where they worked.
Hospitals, Churches, and Schools
- Borgess Hospital (Borgess Health)
- Bronson Methodist Hospital
- Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital
- Central High School
- Kalamazoo College
- Nazareth College
- Old Central High School (now known as the Community Education Center)
- Western Michigan University
- Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA)
Paper Mills and Plants
- Consumers Power Heat Plant
- Georgia Pacific Pulp & Paper
- Kalamazoo Paper Mill
- Karman Sugarbeet Plant
- Sutherland Paper Company
Additional Job Sites and Businesses
- American Cyanamid
- Bond Supply
- C. R. Hough & Son
- Harrow Spring Company
- Industrial Firebrick Inc.
- Kalamazoo Protection Products
- Lapekas Stone Company
- Michigan Bell Telephone
- Ruud Manufacturing Company
- Winkel Machine Co.
Medical Help Near Kalamazoo
The University of Michigan (U-M) Health System’s Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor is one of only 41 cancer facilities with a “Comprehensive” designation awarded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The Center focuses on providing a wide range of surgical, radiation, and pharmaceutical treatments to patients with all types of cancer, including small cell, non-small cell lung cancer, and malignant mesothelioma. Per NCI standards, U-M’s Comprehensive Cancer Center takes part in clinical and laboratory research, as well as NCI testing of new therapies.
U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center is located approximately 96 miles from Kalamazoo, or a drive time of 1 hour, 48 minutes.
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
1500 East Medical Center Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Phone: (800) 865-1125
Legal Help in Kalamazoo and Additional Information
As previously mentioned, if you’ve been exposed to asbestos and suffer from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area. If you have questions or need assistance, contact us toll-free at 800-793-4540.