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Auto Mechanics Exposed to Asbestos

Brake Mechanics & Asbestos Auto mechanics have traditionally been at risk for developing mesothelioma because many of the products they worked with contained high levels of asbestos. Asbestos was used widely in the automotive industry in many materials. Exceptionally high levels of asbestos were found in brake pads and other brake components in addition to clutch pads and transmission parts. Manufacturers of these parts added asbestos to the mix because asbestos naturally disperses heat, which added life to these parts. 

However, the asbestos in these components created extremely dangerous workplace environments in many shops, garages, and dealerships around the country. That’s because airborne asbestos can be lethal, causing a wide variety of diseases including the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma. These specific products were so dangerous because they were often ground down or put under such high stress, both of which produced large amounts of “dust.” This asbestos laden dust was not only easily inhaled or ingested but coated entire work areas, clung to clothing and hair, and was often transported home where it could have potentially put family members at risk as well.

Current mechanics, both professional and home, still are at risk even though it's been decades since asbestos use was outlawed. Cars manufactured or repaired before the mid-1980s may still contain components containing asbestos. Old brakes, transmissions, and even gaskets and insulation may be loaded with this toxin. Handling, removing, or replacing any of these parts may disturb the asbestos within and create an unsafe work environment. 

Companies which manufactured asbestos parts include some of the top names in the industry:

  • Johns-Manville
  • Owens Corning
  • Bosch
  • Dana Corp
  • Raybestos
  • Cooper Industries
  • RPM International

Unfortunately, many of these manufacturers knew the dangers their parts were putting mechanics in and did nothing or next to nothing about it. Often the danger was minimized in warnings and sometimes “overlooked” altogether. And during investigations spawned by asbestosis and mesothelioma lawsuits, it has been discovered that some companies who produced asbestos products actively conspired to hide the dangerous nature of their goods from the people who used them.

When manufacturers should have been advocating the use of respirators, protective clothing, and gloves, they failed to do so and thus placed the lives of many auto mechanics in danger.

While asbestos use is highly regulated now in the United States, many other countries still use asbestos in brake pads and linings. There are strict laws and fines which attempt to keep these hazardous components out of the United States but no one can be sure that black market parts aren’t making their way back into the United States. In fact, just recently investigative reporters broke a story about sub-par drywall and other construction products being shipped into the U.S. right under the nose of customs agents charged with protecting American citizens from such dangerous materials.

Many mechanics diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases have successfully sued these companies for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, mesothelioma is a horrible disease and always fatal. So while monetary compensation may help patients and families cope with the disease, nothing can repair the damage or the pain that losing a loved one can create.

Still, if you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos while working as an auto mechanic and have developed mesothelioma or another asbestos disease, contact us today so we can help.   If you are a mechanic or work on automobiles, especially with brake repair or replacement, read Safe Practices for Mechanics to Avoid Asbestos Exposure