The business was seen as a valued member of the community for producing jobs as well as high-end modern conveniences that were well-respected within households across the country. Unfortunately, the company’s use of asbestos in its appliances put both consumers and workers at risk for developing asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related diseases.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Monarch Malleable ranges and stoves were marketed to modern housewives. The company’s advertisements and product catalogues bragged that “Monarch coal and wood ranges are built to conform with the most modern practical ideals of the day, comprising efficiency, durability, beauty and compactness.” The stoves were praised in company catalogues for being “modern in both finish and construction.” The company’s own marketing materials admitted to using asbestos insulation.
Former employees who worked in the Malleable factory may have developed disease due to asbestos exposure. Repairmen and consumers who worked on contaminated ranges could also be at risk for these debilitating diseases.1
Malleable’s patent applications contain ample evidence of the use of asbestosis-inducing materials in their ranges. For example, Malleable Iron Range Co got a patent for its combination coal-wood electric ranges in 1935. This patent application lists various instances in which asbestos-containing millboards are used within the stoves, such as “asbestos millboard reinforced by metal” to prevent the ranges from rusting.2
Lawsuits and Bankruptcy
Malleable filed for bankruptcy in 1985 and the property was purchased by Dodge County in 1988. Fires destroyed the factories in 1990. By 1992, the soil and groundwater in the area were contaminated. The state’s department of natural resources eventually closed the site, the Daily Citizen reports.
Ten years after Malleable’s bankruptcy, the company’s former worksite was still in ruins. In October 1996, Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine reported that the former mayor of Beaver Dam and hazardous waste investigators agreed that there seemed to be no end in sight for the legal struggles and financial problems associated with the old Malleable site.
Hazardous waste investigator Dave Edwards recalled having uncovered hundreds of toxic waste barrels and thousands of gallons of hazardous liquids that included lead and other dangerous liquid chemicals.3
The Future of Malleable Iron Range
Today, the Malleable Iron Range Company is still listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website for being an environmental concern. The EPA forced a formal enforcement action against the company site in 1998. In 2000, the EPA listed the site as a concern being monitored under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 and the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) of 1984.4