Asbestos Exposure for Mechanics

History & Background

Automotive mechanics remove and replace worn linings or even resurface linings on a daily basis. Many car owners, especially of older or vintage cars, may do this work themselves, and may have a friend or family member assist them.

Assembly-line workers may install brakes in new vehicles. Auto parts manufacturers may assemble new brakes, or reline old pads and shoes. Operators of heavy machinery who do their own maintenance may also replace old linings. Junkyard operators may also handle friction materials.

How Were Mechanics Exposed?

Many automotive manufacturer employees as well as automotive repair shop laborers could have been exposed to asbestos. Exposure was most common in those who engaged with asbestos products regularly, and even more so in those who repaired or regularly encountered damaged or compromised product. Unfortunately, many manufacturers of asbestos products we aware of the hazard their products presented but continued to produce them and endanger those who worked with them.

Automotive Parts or Process Exposing Mechanics & Others to Asbestos

BRAKE LININGS: Perhaps the most common automotive part known to contain asbestos are brake constructions. Asbestos was used in brake shoes, pads, and rotors. Brakes rely on the forces of friction to function properly. Friction releases a great deal of heat, which asbestos insulates against.

Product Name

Start Year

End Year

Allied Signal Friction King Disc Brake Pads

1979

1987

Bendix Disc Brake Pads

1963

1988

Ferodo Brake Pads

1923

1998

BRAKE PADS: In automotive, heavy truck and railroad brake pads, asbestos was quite useful; the heat generated by stopping a heavy vehicle could exceed 2500 degrees Fahrenheit, creating a substantial fire hazard. Although domestic automakers claim that asbestos materials are no longer used in friction products, foreign manufacturers of after-market brake pads are under no economic or regulatory pressure to cease using asbestos materials. In addition, there are no laws on the books that require such products that contain asbestos to be labeled.

Brake Pads Containing Asbestos

The following partial list of brake linings were known to contain asbestos

Product Name

Start Year

End Year

Abex Corporation Brake Linings

1926

1987

Anchor Packing Brake Linings

1908

1984

Bendix Brake Linings

1939

Borg-Warner Brake Linings

1971

1975

Chrysler Brake Linings

Dana Corporation Brake Linings

Ferodo “FZ” Brake Lining

1923

1998

Ferodo Bonded Asbestos Brake Linings

1923

1998

Ford Motor Brake Linings

1909

General Motors Brake Linings

1920

Johns Manville Brake Linings

1972

Raymark Brake Linings

Unarco Brake Linings

1920

1942

CLUTCHES: Clutches, like brakes, are built to withstand a great deal of friction and grinding. Asbestos was used to protect against corrosion and wear.

HEAT SEALS: Heat seals were used to protect against heat transfer among many different engine and automotive body parts.

GASKETS: Gaskets were used in automobile hoses and engine parts. Asbestos was used to increase durability and prevent heat transfer for this purpose.

HOOD LINERS: Hood liners protected the underside of the car’s hood from damage due to engine heat. Asbestos was used in hood liners and other automotive parts that were required to withstand heat damage.

BODY CONSTRUCTION: While asbestos was adept at insulation and prevention of heat transfer, it was also durable, making it attractive for inclusion in fiberglass or plastic compounds from which auto body parts were made. Body parts that were modified or repaired could potentially release asbestos fibers, endangering those in the vicinity.

ENGINE COMPONENTS: The internal combustion engine used in the great majority of all automobiles releases a great deal of heat. Engine components must be protected against that heat to function properly. In many instances, asbestos was used in the engine part components and compounds to serve this purpose.

INSULATION: The same asbestos that was used in engine components to protect against heat transfer could be used in body insulation materials to keep a car’s inhabitants warm or cool depending on the outside temperature.

BRAKE ROTOR GRINDING: While in the process of sanding malformations in brake linings and rotors, asbestos is easily released into the air from previously stable compounds, endangering those in the vicinity of harmful exposure. Proper techniques to avoid inhalation of asbestos or other particles include clear ventilation systems and using a dust mask or similar device.

CLEANING PROCEDURES: Vacuuming asbestos or asbestos containing dust is not a safe method of removing the material from the workplace. Asbestos fibers are microscopic and are easily disturbed when dust is churned around by a vacuum or fan. Even wiping with a moist rag will only scatter particles, leaving them throughout a jobsite, endangering those in the area. The only truly safe way to clean asbestos is through the use of knowledgeable professionals who are licensed in the field of asbestos abatement or similar cleanup procedures.

Mechanics & Asbestos Diseases

Mechanics who serviced and repaired brakes and clutches were at risk for heavy exposure to asbestos. Using a compressed air hose to clean drum brakes had the potential to release millions of asbestos fibers in the air around the mechanic's face. Even hitting a brake drum with a hammer can release fibers. Besides being highly likely to breath in asbestos fibers, mechanics can get asbestos on their hands, swallowing small particles when eating. And once released into the air, asbestos lingers in the shop and can be breathed by customers as well as by the mechanics. The mechanic may also carry asbestos dust home on work clothing, endangering family members.

Contact Us Today

I have read and agree to the disclaimer.

Send My Information