Asbestos Exposure in Illinois

Many industries have used asbestos in construction, insulation, and several other building capacities. Illinois, especially in Chicago, has a sizeable industrial scene. This led to the state becoming 7th highest in the nation for deaths related to asbestos exposure. Cook, Lake, and DuPage are the top counties in the state for deaths from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, and asbestosis, an asbestos illness, between 1999 and 2013.

A category of six minerals that occur naturally in the environment as bundles of fibers, asbestos used to be a popular choice in construction. It was an ideal building material due to its cost, durability, and heat-resistance. This was before it was known to be carcinogenic, or to have cancer-causing tendencies. The mineral can be found in soil and rock deposits or water runoff spots that can transfer it to other places.

Asbestos-Related Conditions

This is a graphic of a doctor explaining the different asbestos-related conditionsWhen asbestos is inhaled or ingested, fibers will get lodged deep in the lungs and chest cavities, and in some rarer conditions, the abdominal or heart region. Prolonged irritation from the fibers has been known to cause illness over time. Generally, older adults and seniors are the primary group affected by asbestos-related conditions since there’s usually a latency period of 20 years or more. Diseases include:


Damage or scarring of the lung tissue.

Lung Cancer

Cancer developed in the lungs.


Tumors growing in the lining of the lungs (pleural), the abdomen (peritoneal), or heart (pericardial). This is the most common asbestos-related illness.

Pleural Effusion

When the pleura is inflamed, irritated, or otherwise damaged, fluid will begin to build up in the pleura, or tissue lining in between the lungs. Excess fluid will then enter the chest cavity, causing pleural effusion.

Asbestosis and mesothelioma are the most common illnesses that have developed in Illinois patients. If you suspect that you’ve been exposed to asbestos, see a doctor as soon as possible to receive an evaluation.

High-Risk Areas

There are a few areas in Illinois that have a higher risk of asbestos exposure than others. Work and military are the capacities that see most of the mineral.


There are no naturally occurring places in Illinois where asbestos can be found. Still, there’s a superfund site in Illinois that was known for containing asbestos. This spot is the former Johns-Manville site and was responsible for contaminating the environment around it. This area encompasses over three million cubic yards of wastewater gunk that was polluted with asbestos and other dangerous materials. There’s a high chance of airborne asbestos fibers in this area as well.


Laborers working in shipyards, demolition, renovation, construction, mining, pipe-fitting, plumbing, and manufacturing have the highest chance for asbestos contamination. Illinois is a very industrial state, meaning that there are several places and occupations at risk for contamination. Power plants and oil refineries in Illinois also used asbestos heavily in several building capacities. The mineral was applied in boilers, furnaces, and insulating components, to name a few.

Montana has a mining site in Libby that was linked to an enormous amount of asbestos pollution throughout the country. The area had a lot of vermiculite mixed with asbestos that was sent to several facilities, exposing workers and residents nearby. A facility in Chicago was one of the receiving sites, with the site processing over 273,000 tons of contaminated vermiculite from Libby, and 372,000 tons total for the state of Illinois.

Military bases, tools, and materials have also been built with the mineral in the past. Navy veterans being the branch with the most asbestos usage, due to their wide application of asbestos-products in military ships, bases, tools, and shipyards.


Buildings built before 1980 often had parts that were made with asbestos products. The mineral has been found in homes, schools, and other old buildings in residential areas. If there’s a renovation, demolition, or other disturbance, the asbestos used in buildings could be expelled into the air, making inhalation and ingestion much more likely to workers and residents. Otherwise, the risk of exposure is lower.

Another way that asbestos can end up in the home is through secondary exposure. When a worker with the fibers on their person comes into contact with a family member or close friends, it’s possible for those fibers to be spread through contact with skin, hair, or clothing.

Banning Asbestos

Some organizations fight to ban asbestos from being used as frequently as before. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is the organization that leads actions against asbestos in the marketplace.


In 1989, the EPA passed a partial ban on the development, distribution, and sale of some asbestos products. New uses for the mineral were also banned, further removing it from the marketplace.

In April 2019, the EPA passed the “Final Rule,” which demanded asbestos products that were no longer on the market to be banned from returning without further determination from the agency. The EPA also monitors lingering uses of asbestos by assessing potential contamination issues for those involved, and shutting everything down if the risk is too high.

EPA and Illinois

The EPA has a unit in Illinois to help guard the people and surrounding environment against exposure to asbestos, they’re also known as the Illinois EPA Asbestos Unit. They’re the delegated authority for regulating the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP).

The NESHAP policy holds business owners and operators accountable for submitting notifications and requesting approval for all asbestos-related demolition or renovation projects. Contractors must also be licensed and certified to remove asbestos and provide at least 10 working days’ notice before beginning any projects that may disturb asbestos fibers.

Legal Recourse for Illinois Victims

People who have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related conditions could be entitled to compensation from asbestos companies responsible for the exposure. Action against said companies usually has to be taken in a short period, depending on the state the claim is filed. Reaching out to an experienced mesothelioma attorney would prove extremely helpful. They could efficiently navigate the complexities of filing a claim for your unique case and get you maximum benefits in a timely manner.

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Regulations for Filing a Claim in Illinois

There are multiple laws that Illinois has put in place regarding asbestos and mesothelioma claims. These laws determine how much proof is needed in legal cases for compensation from an asbestos illness.

Court Exposure Standard

Each state has different regulations and standards in regards to asbestos cases. This defines the guidelines that personal injury plaintiffs must follow to prove the asbestos companies liable in court. A standard method for determining liability is the Lohrmann test, which involves the plaintiff proving that the defendant’s product was a significant cause in their exposure. The test observes the worker’s recurrence and proximity to asbestos at the job site, and Illinois applies this standard for all cases that take place in the state. A person filing an asbestos claim in Illinois is likely to be denied if they can only prove minimal contact with the mineral.

Statute of Limitations and Latency Period of Mesothelioma

This policy determines the amount of time a patient has to file an asbestos lawsuit before it becomes time-barred in court. This can be anywhere between 5 and 50 years and differs from state to state. A short latency period can cause issues for mesothelioma victims due to how long the disease takes to develop.

For Illinois patients, the statute of limitations does not start until an official mesothelioma diagnosis, due to the state discovery rule. This rule holds that the plaintiff could not take action against something they were unaware of. There’s also a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death suits, or claims filed by the surviving family member of a mesothelioma victim.

Asbestos Disclosure in Home Sales

Illinois law states that home-sellers must disclose the presence of dangerous amounts of asbestos in the home. Damage or contamination to doors, floors, or windows in the residence must also be reported.

Treatment Centers Near Illinois

It’s essential to visit a specialized treatment center if you receive a mesothelioma diagnosis and need treatment and care. These centers have doctors who have extensive experience with cancers such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related cancers, offering you the best care available.


Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center | Northwestern University

Chicago, Illinois
Main #: (312) 695 0990

The University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center

Chicago, Illinois
Main #: 1 (855) 702 8222



Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

Indianapolis, Indiana
Main #: (317) 944 5000
Appointments and Referrals: (317) 944 0920

Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

West Lafayette, Indiana
Main #: (765) 494 9129



Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center | University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa
Cancer Information Service: 1 (800) 237 1225
Appointments and Referrals: (319) 356 4200



Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center | Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital

St. Louis, Missouri
Main #: (314) 747 7222



University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

Madison, Wisconsin
Main #: (608) 263 8600

Now What?

The state of Illinois has taken steps towards regulating the use of asbestos and keeping residents safe from exposure. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos while on the job, odds are the employer is responsible and you deserve compensation. The Illinois Small Business Environmental Assistance Program offers free assistance to business owners and operators in understanding their environmental requirements, as stated by the Clean Air Act.

For more information, you can contact the Environmental Assistance Helpline at (800) 252-3998, or reach out to your Illinois regional office.

Illinois Regional Office HQ

1021 North Grand Avenue East
P.O. Box 19276
Main #: (217) 782 3397

Get the compensation you deserve. Reach out to an experienced mesothelioma attorney to find out how.

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