Asbestos is a mineral that has significantly influenced the development of numerous industries, including the automotive industry. Due to its impressive properties, offering insulation and heat resistance, asbestos was frequently used in the manufacturing of various automotive parts.
However, this put many automotive workers at risk for asbestos exposure. When asbestos-containing automotive parts are built, damaged or repaired, asbestos fibers can easily become disturbed. When these fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lining of the lungs and abdomen and lead to malignant mesothelioma.
If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos from automotive products and have developed an asbestos-related disease, our lawyers at PWHD are here to help. An initial consultation is complimentary and confidential. We charge no upfront fees to investigate a case.
Asbestos Use in the Automotive Industry
Asbestos was frequently used in automobiles and vehicle components for its durability, insulation, and heat resistance properties. Many automotive parts face high friction or high heat from the engine. As such, the industry heavily used asbestos in various automotive component parts.
Unfortunately, automobile and truck mechanics, technicians and other workers have been exposed to asbestos in several ways. Workers involved in the construction process often handled asbestos-containing automotive products. For example, drum and disk brakes manufactured used to contain between 35 to 60 percent asbestos.
Asbestos-containing parts were used not just on cars, but also motorcycles, trucks, trains, buses and military vehicles. People who worked in auto repair shops, auto assembly plants, automotive supply stores and manufacturing facilities where asbestos automotive parts were produced or used may have been exposed.
Today, it is still legal in the U.S. to sell asbestos-containing automotive parts.
Automotive Parts That May Still Contain Asbestos
Asbestos can still be found in various automotive parts, which include but are not limited to the following:
- Brakes – Asbestos was incorporated in brake pads, shoes and rotors to protect against heat and heavy friction.
- Clutches – Asbestos has been used in clutch linings to help prevent heat and corrosion.
- Gaskets – Asbestos was used to avoid unwanted heat transfer and to increase the durability of gaskets used in different engine components.
- Heat shields – Asbestos was used in heat shields around mufflers to help prevent fire.
- Hood liners – Asbestos was used in hood liners to help protect the underside of the automobile from heat generated by the engine.
- Mufflers – Mufflers and the compounds used to repair them also contained asbestos.
High-Risk Automotive Occupations
Occupations with a high-risk of asbestos exposure include auto assembly line workers, auto mechanics and auto body workers. When large amounts of asbestos fibers are disturbed, these fibers could end up on repair shop floors or in the air, exposing anyone working nearby.
Family members also have an increased risk for secondary exposure from workers bringing home asbestos fibers on their hair, skin, clothing and gear.
Other automotive occupations that put workers at risk of asbestos exposure include:
- Automotive and truck mechanics
- Roadway workers
- Truck drivers
- Bus operators
- Gas station workers
- Railroad workers
- Heavy machinery operators and mechanics
For instance, it is estimated that over 700,000 U.S. workers are at an increased risk of asbestos exposure just from brake repairs. Nonprofessional mechanics performing their own brake repairs at home are also at risk of being exposed to asbestos and developing mesothelioma cancer.
Even car enthusiasts working on older vehicles are more likely to be in contact with asbestos-containing parts than newer vehicles. Without the proper protective equipment, they may be unknowingly exposed.
Various companies may have exposed their automotive workers to asbestos.
Safety Regulations for Automotive Workers
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are responsible for enforcing safety regulations to protect workers in the automotive industry from asbestos-related health risks.
Their best practices for automotive brake and clutch inspections, disassembles, assemblies and repairs vary.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
The OSHA requires using one of these three cleaning methods:
- Negative-Pressure Enclosure/HEPA Vacuum System Method – This method involves securing an enclosure that is fitted tightly around a brake or clutch to help contain asbestos fibers.
- Low Pressure/Wet Cleaning Method – This method involves using low-pressure spray equipment to wet a brake or clutch. Any runoff is collected to reduce exposure to asbestos dust.
- Wet Wipe Method – A spray bottle is used to apply water at low pressure to a brake or clutch, which is wiped down with a cloth to be contained, labeled and disposed of.
Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA recommends that professional automotive workers do the following:
- Refrain from blowing dust – Workers should not be using compressed air to clean brakes and clutches. Using a dry rag, or a wet or dry brush can cause asbestos dust from circulating around.
- Use a wet/dry vacuum – Refrain from using a standard wet/dry vacuum. Workers should be using a wet/dry vacuum that has a HEPA filter.
- Use a low-pressure method – This method is advised without closed system equipment.
- Use a wet wipe method – Auto shop workers that perform five brake or clutch jobs or less a week should be using the wet wipe method.
Get Answers to Your Questions Today
Contact our office located at 12350 Jefferson Ave, Suite 300, anytime day or night. We are ready to answer any questions you may have about asbestos exposure from automotive products.
Learn if you may be eligible for compensation after being diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease during a free legal consultation. There is no cost in talking to a lawyer about your potential case and no obligation to move forward with our services.