Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with long, thin, tiny fibers. Because asbestos fibers are strong, durable and non-combustible, asbestos was used in automobile parts for many years. Up until the 1980s, asbestos was used in automobile parts, such as:

  • brakes (linings and pads)
  • clutches
  • gaskets
  • roofs

Unfortunately, asbestos fibers are very dangerous when inhaled. When inhaled, asbestos fibers remain lodged in the body and can cause severe and life-threatening illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and various cancers.

Workplace Asbestos Exposure: Automotive Facilities

Because asbestos fibers are released when asbestos containing materials are cut, broken, or damaged, workers in the automobile industry are often exposed to asbestos.

For example, automobile mechanic garages may contain extremely high levels of asbestos, because automobile brakes and clutches often get worn down and shred. When this happens, asbestos fibers are released into the brake housing or clutch space. When automobile mechanics repair these automobile brakes or clutches, the accumulated asbestos fibers are released into the air and may be inhaled. To exacerbate the problem, automobile garages are often poorly ventilated and mechanics typically wear no protective clothing or equipment.

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that two-thirds of automobile garages contain dangerous asbestos levels. The EPA also determined that asbestos constitutes up to 60% of the dust found in most mechanic garages.

Automotive Facilities Asbestos Safety Measures         

Now, the U.S. Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) regulates asbestos use in automobile mechanic garages. Specifically, OSHA requires automobile mechanic shops that repair more than five brakes or clutches per week to follow one of the following procedures when repairing automobile brakes or clutches:

  • Negative Pressure Enclosure/ HEPA Vacuum System: This automobile repair safety procedure involves tightly fitting a box with plastic walls around the brake or clutch to prevent asbestos exposure.
  • Low Pressure/Wet Cleaning Method: This automobile repair safety procedure involves using a low pressure spray to wet the brake or clutch and a container to catch the flowing asbestos dust. 

 Exposed to Asbestos while Working at an Automobile Facility?

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos while working at an automobile facility and diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, please contact our qualified asbestos lawyers today.

Published November 17, 2011 by