Asbestos has been used by the automotive industry for many decades now. From brake pads to linings, clutches, and gaskets, asbestos is relevantly present and poses severe risk of asbestos exposure to auto mechanics across the whole country. Inhalation of asbestos dust eventually leads to lung cancer, asbestosis, and Pleural mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is one of the most aggressive cancer types known to man. It is a painful cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs and is positively fatal. Since mesothelioma does not develop until after 15-50 years of asbestos exposure, diagnosis of this rare disease come too late for treatments to actually work and save the victim.
Although the use of asbestos has been banned, there are still millions of vehicles that contain asbestos. Some of the automotive parts containing asbestos are hoodliners, brakes, clutches, heat seals, gaskets, and valves. Cars and trucks are still in production today with brakes and clutches containing asbestos.
Asbestos is remarkably fire-resistant, making it a favorite material among almost all industries. Brake linings normally wear down through friction, releasing asbestos dust every time cars are used. The asbestos dust released are often trapped in the brake housing. When the brake housing is opened, asbestos dust is released into the air, leaving workers and automobile mechanics exposed to such toxic substance. Both new and old cars still contain asbestos today and is found on some clutch parts. The asbestos is ground down during normal wear and collects in the clutch compartments. When either the clutch cover, disk, or drum is removed, asbestos is released into the air, again causing people to unconsciously inhale or swallow asbestos. Transporting fluid or gases is done with the use of gaskets, insulators, and valves. Some automobile exhaust systems in the early ’70s contained asbestos gaskets at the exhaust manifolds of the engine.
Automobile mechanics are instructed by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA to assume that all brakes contain asbestos. This is because a mere visual inspection can not indicate which specific brakes contain asbestos. Cleaning the brakes can result in the release of asbestos into the air and consequently risk employees of asbestos exposure. Some of the most common cleaning habits of mechanics and individual car owners include the usage of a vacuum cleaner, compressed air hose for drum breaks, dry rags and brushes, liquid squirt bottles and solvent sprays, and water hoses.
Everday practice of these cleaning habits eventually leads to greater exposure to asbestos and result to mesothelioma. Precautions should be taken while doing simple day to day tasks as asbestos is a very common substance widely used by almost every industry in the country.