Although the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration began regulating asbestos-containing products in 1973, asbestos use continued for decades in many industrial and consumer products sold in the United States.
The automotive industry prized asbestos for its low cost as well as excellent friction and wear capabilities. In spite of studies demonstrating the hazards of asbestos back to the early 20th Century, a number of automobile manufacturers and suppliers used the toxic mineral for transmission parts, clutch facings, brakes, gaskets and other components into the 21st Century.
Almost 100 years of asbestos use resulted in an avalanche of auto worker and mechanic deaths. Nevertheless, the auto industry argues that the asbestos in brakes doesn’t cause cancer and the levels of exposure are safe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NIOSH, OSHA and the World Health Organization disagree: brakes cause cancer and there is no safe-level of exposure.
Thousands of victims filed lawsuits against Ford and other manufacturers due to exposure to asbestos used in clutches and brakes. Ford’s brake linings contained up to 60% of the dangerous toxin. Tired of losing trials and compensating sick mechanics and their families, Ford and others in the auto industry spent over $40 million for journal articles and expert studies aimed at casting doubt on the link between asbestos brakes and mesothelioma in auto mechanics.
Ford’s enormous body of junk scientific literature seeks to pollute the scientific debate through its sheer volume. Hundreds of physicians and scientists around the globe have affirmed the scientific consensus of the EPA, NIOSH, OSHA and the WHO stating that brakes cause cancer, but they lack industry’s financial muscle to match the deluge of scientific articles generated by Ford’s $40 million junk science machine.
The most unfortunate part of this tragic story is that Ford continued to use asbestos-lined brakes 20 years after internal memos expressed concern for the safety of mechanics. The company also kept an internal “meso list” of its employees who developed this asbestos-related cancer. The company briefly explored using alternative brake materials, such as metal or carbon, but ultimately decided that the cost was too severe. Decades after deciding to save money by using this cheap but deadly mineral, the company is willing to spend $40 million to protect its bottom line.
Simmons Hanly Conroy’s mesothelioma attorneys are willing to put the firm’s resources up against those of industry. If you believe you may have been exposed to asbestos while on the job as an auto mechanic, we encourage you to contact your doctor immediately to discuss asbestos-related disease symptoms. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we encourage you to contact a mesothelioma lawyer. Click here to request your free legal consultation.
Today, automotive workers at service stations, repair shops, garages and car dealerships need to be aware of asbestos hazards and mesothelioma risk. Although the use of asbestos in auto parts has diminished, vehicle components can still contain asbestos. As a result, automobile mechanics and their families are in considerable danger of asbestos exposure when they perform work on brakes, clutches and gaskets. To learn more about asbestos exposure in the automotive industry today and for a longer list of automotive asbestos-containing products, click here.