Routine, hands-on work with clutch facings, brake shoes and linings and other asbestos-containing friction materials puts auto mechanics at a significant risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses. Many professional mechanics have endured years of high-level asbestos exposure at service stations, car dealerships, repair shops, garages and other confined work spaces, where hazardous fibers and dust linger. In addition to this, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there are more than 700,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics employed in the United States. Accordingly, a mesothelioma diagnosis among auto mechanics is not uncommon.
Because of its cheap cost and excellent friction and fire-resistant properties, asbestos was regularly used by clutch and brake manufacturers who supplied dangerous materials directly to major auto plants as well as aftermarket distributors and small repair shops. These products are known to release short chrysotile asbestos fibers during the installation, repair and replacement of brake systems, linking auto mechanics and asbestos exposure. Many brakes are still made with asbestos–only in smaller amounts than in the past–and as the pads and linings break down with friction against the drums, asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled by mechanics when they service the brake systems, particularly if they are unaware of the dangers inherent in asbestos. Common high risk duties for auto mechanics include “blowing out” of brake surfaces with high pressure air hoses and “grinding” brake shoes.
Despite repeated warnings in the 1970s by scientists, industrial hygienists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other government officials about the dangers between auto mechanics and asbestos exposure, many auto part manufacturers continued to incorporate asbestos into their products – knowingly putting mechanics and other customers at risk. Some of the most common automotive products still containing asbestos today include:
- Brake pads
- Brake linings
- Clutch facings
And though the use of toxic materials like asbestos is regulated by organizations such as OSHA, surprisingly dangerous levels of asbestos dust continue to be found in automotive workshops and garages across the country, where they pose health risks to both auto mechanics and customers. A recent study conducted by government-certified laboratories on behalf of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer found that more than two-thirds of automotive garages inspected had “dangerous levels of asbestos dust present.” Specifically, the asbestos dust levels fell somewhere between 2.26 percent and 63.8 percent. Given the long dormancy period between exposure to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, this does not bode well for auto mechanics.
Simmons Hanly Conroy pursues justice for those individuals and their families who have been affected by asbestos exposure leading to mesothelioma. For more than a decade we have worked to represent mesothelioma victims and their families and have donated to support research into finding a cure for this tragic disease. We are committed to the fight against mesothelioma, and treat our clients with the dignity that comes through understanding mesothelioma and its effects on families.
If you believe you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, or if you or your loved one is experiencing the symptoms of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, please contact your physician. For legal matters, please contact the Firm for a free consultation.
Auto Mechanic Asbestos Exposure Resources
- Washington Passes Better Brakes Law to Ban Asbestos in Brake Pads
- Detoxifying Asbestos Brakes in California and Washington
- Top Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure in 2013
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