A Safety Reminder: Asbestos has been utilized in the manufacturing of auto parts like brake pads and linings, clutch facings, and gaskets for decades now. Many people are under the mistaken impression that asbestos has been totally banned from use, but the truth is that it is still used in these products today. This puts auto mechanics and enthusiasts that work on their own cars at serious risk as the inhalation of asbestos dust can lead to debilitating and fatal diseases like asbestosis and lung cancer. Asbestos is also the only known cause of a rare type of lung cancer known as pleural mesothelioma.
The risk of exposure exists when materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged. Dust full of microscopic asbestos fibers is then released into the air. There is consistent abrasion on brake pads and clutches and a large amount of the toxic material is trapped inside the brake housing or clutch space. The dust is then released when replacement or repair work is done.
The symptoms of mesothelioma usually do not exhibit themselves until about 15 to 25 years after exposure. At this point, the cancer is usually in its advanced stages and doctors often find it difficult to treat the cancer effectively. This makes a mesothelioma prognosis (more often than not) a bleak one. It is estimated that since 1940 more than six million mechanics have been exposed to asbestos in brakes. The increasing rate of asbestos-related illnesses has resulted in mechanics, veterans and people of other susceptible occupations filing mesothelioma lawsuits to be compensated for their undeserved illness.
Mechanics and enthusiasts who do auto restoration and repair on older vehicles should take the right precautions to avoid asbestos exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a detailed brochure that offers information regarding OSHA’s regulations for commercial automotive shops concerning asbestos.
If you don’t feel comfortable working on your older Corvette yourself, leave it to a professional.