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Better Brakes Rule 2010

Washington’s Better Brakes Law


In efforts to further protect mechanics, the general public and the environment, last year Washington passed the Better Brakes Law which would reduce the use of toxic materials, including asbestos, in automotive brakes and shoes and clutch linings.   

Many brake and clutch components in automobiles contain asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that is highly heat and fire resistant, but also deadly.  Microscopic asbestos fibers, if inhaled or ingested, lodge in the lining of the internal body organs and anywhere from ten to fifty years later develop into mesothelioma, a fatal type of asbestos cancer.   

Mechanics are especially at risk of exposure because automotive parts containing asbestos are not required to be labeled and there is no way of telling by sight if brakes, shoes, or linings contain asbestos.  As an effort to protect mechanics and the environment, Washington has passed a law, the Better Brakes Law, overseen by the Department of Ecology (Ecology) that will essentially remove all toxic materials from automotive brakes and shoes. 

The major provisions of the Better Brakes Law put forth by Ecology are:

Brake pads and shoes manufactured after January 1, 2014, must not contain asbestos, hexavalent chromium, mercury, cadmium, or lead. Auto shops and other distributors of brakes will be able to sell any existing inventory for ten years.

Brake pads manufactured after January 1, 2021, must not contain more than five percent copper by weight.

Beginning in 2015, Ecology will review relevant information and consult with a committee of experts to determine if alternative brake friction materials, containing less than 0.5 percent copper, are available.

Eight years after Ecology determines that alternative brake friction materials are available, brake pads containing more than 0.5 percent copper may not be sold in the state.

Brake manufacturers will use accredited laboratories and certify to Ecology that their brake pads and shoes comply with the law and will mark proof of certification on all pads and packaging offered for sale in Washington.

Ecology will track data provided by manufacturers to ensure that concentrations of nickel, zinc, and antimony in automobile brake pads do not increase by more than 50 percent.

Ongoing workshops will be offered by Ecology, with the first ones starting at the end of January 2012.  Check the Ecology website for more information about in-person as well as online workshops, fact sheets, and frequently asked questions.

If you are a mechanic and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office today to speak directly with one of our expert asbestos attorneys for a free case evaluation.  We have been representing mechanics injured by asbestos for over thirty years, and have helped them and their families to get financial help when they need it most.