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Auto Mechanics have a high rate of Asbestos-related disease. Regardless of whether the vehicle is a scooter all the way to the tracked vehicle moves NASA's rockets, mechanics have worked with a tremendous amount of Asbestos dust. From the 1940s until the late 1980s, professional and shade tree Auto mechanics were regularly exposed to Asbestos through their brake, clutch, and engine work.

How Are Auto-Mechanics Exposed to Asbestos?

Auto mechanics manipulate Asbestos-containing friction materials, gaskets, and insulation. The friction materials are used in brake pads and clutch pad facings. The gasket material using Asbestos would be in the engine head gaskets. Finally, the insulation was mostly found in sound dampening materials contained in the exhaust system.

Brake pads are probably the most extensive potential exposure for professional and shade tree mechanics. The main components of brake pads are carbon, asbestos, and epoxy or glue to hold it together. The brake pads are designed to be worn down with use, and as they wear out, all that is left is carbon and asbestos. There are two main types of brakes, drum brakes and then later disc brakes.

Drum Brakes and Asbestos Exposure

Drum brakes have a circular drum with curved disc pads to push out against the drum. The pads provide resistance, and that's how you stop the wheels. The faster the wheels turn, the more pressure is exerted on the drum, and the more of the brake pad is worn away. If you have a "leadfoot" you're going to wear your brakes down faster and create more brake dust. When you change a drum brake, you take off the wheel and hub. Once you to the drum, you have to clean it out.

The drums have to be clean to be inspected for wear and tear to determine if they need to be turned (smoothed out) or replaced.

The primary way auto mechanics would clean that out was with an air hose or a few taps from a hammer. Air hoses are no longer the recommended method, but every repair shop would have compressed air. The highly pressurized air would send Asbestos dust everywhere. This is how Asbestos fiber will be inhaled or ingested by auto mechanics dealing with drum brakes.

How Disc Brakes can Exposed You to Asbestos?

Drum brakes were primarily available from the original model T up until the 1970s. Then you start having the disc brakes, particularly on front wheels. Disc brakes are different because they have calipers and brake pads. These calipers and pads grab that disc (rotor) in the center and pinching it to provide friction. Again, the higher the speed, the more force exerted to stop the wheel, and the faster you will wear out the pads.

To change disc brakes, you still have to remove the wheel and the hub and examine the rotor for wear. The mechanic will clean off the area with a rag or compressed air. Either method of cleaning off the Asbestos brake dust means that you are exposed.

Clutches & Asbestos Exposure

Clutches also contained Asbestos from the 1940s to the late 1980s. Asbestos was used as a friction material in the clutch plate facing--a combination of carbon asbestos and epoxy. Clutches are not changed as often as brakes, but they created just as must Asbestos dust. To replace a plate, you have to clean the area with a rag or air hose. This will expose you to asbestos fibers.

Engine Gaskets and Asbestos Exposure

Another significant type of Asbestos exposure for auto mechanics is engine gaskets. There are many types of gaskets in an automobile, most of which don't contain Asbestos. However, from the 1940s to the 1990s, head gaskets on an engine contained Asbestos to deal with high temperatures and pressure. Asbestos gaskets held up to corrosion better and resisted the heat of the machine. A gasket may not seem like it would create dust, but it does in two ways: manipulation and modification during installation and breaking apart during removal.

Gaskets can be precut for your make and model of vehicle, or they can be more generic in shape where you will still have to make some cuts or make additional holes for bolts.  The most work would be the sheet gasket.

For sheet gaskets, you would trace the shape and cut or tap out the fibrous Asbestos material. This cutting of the Asbestos sheet gasket did not create a lot of Asbestos dust, but the mechanic would be likely to breathe the dust because they would be working so closely with the Asbestos material.

If you leave a gasket on an engine head long enough, it will deteriorate and become attached to the head and engine block. Because the material gets bolted down for an extended period, it sticks and delaminates when you attempt to pull off the head. The auto mechanic removes that gasket Asbestos fiber by scraping it, using a wire wheel, or lightly sanding the remnant gasket. All this jobs will expose you to asbestos.

You must be careful in removing the fibers because you don't want to damage the engine block. The old Asbestos gasket has to be removed entirely to complete the repair.

Job Sites With Asbestos Exposure

Is Asbestos Still Legal in America?

Given all of our discussions on the dangers of Asbestos, you might believe that the Asbestos was banned from use in brake pads.  However, Asbestos was widely used in brakes until the 1990s, and you can still order high-performance specialty brake pads today for motorcycles,  ATVs, cars, trucks, and other heavy equipment.

Asbestos was more widely used until the mid-1980s; however, some top-rated brands had Asbestos it even up until the 2000s.  Because Asbestos continues to be a dangerous part of the profession, mechanics continue to suffer from high rates of Mesothelioma and Asbestos lung cancer.

Auto Mechanics Working Conditions

Even if you are working under the proverbial shade tree, a mechanic, or hobbyist, is breathing cancer-causing Asbestos fibers. Prep work such as removing brake pads, clutches, and gaskets is dirty work, and the installation of the new equipment requires that Asbestos material is sanded, cut, or drill, which creates even more dust. Now imagine the amount of Asbestos dust generated in a professional garage bay. Most repair shops have multiple bays doing the same dusty work and using air hoses, brake grinders, wire wheels, etc.

Because Asbestos can stay floating in the air longer in a covered area (i.e., if the garage bay doors are shut), everyone working in that area is exposed to each other's dust.

The worst type of exposure when a mechanic is working in a bay in the winter--here the garage bay doors are down; or at a dealership or other high volume location where they have had no choice but to breathe that same Asbestos contaminated air over and over again. It was a preventable tragedy that the auto industry let generations of mechanics work with Asbestos-containing products.

It was their job to release those asbestos fibers and breathe them, which causes mechanics to be diagnosed with Mesothelioma, Asbestos lung cancer, and Asbestosis up to 50 or 60 years later.

How our Asbestos Lawyers can Help Auto Mechanics Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?

Our Mesothelioma lawyers can help any auto mechanic that is diagnosed with Mesothelioma or Asbestos lung cancer receive best compensation available. We know auto mechanic profession, we know the products you used, and who made them.

Our mesothelioma attorneys will be able to get you compensation from existing companies and bankrupt companies and make sure you have received every benefit you are entitled to.

An auto mechanic with a Mesothelioma or lung cancer diagnosis may not understand that they have claims against the Asbestos companies and may not pursue them. If your loved one has died in the past three years and worked as an Auto Mechanic, we can still help you and your family.  

Many states allow a claim to be brought by the heirs several years after a diagnosis or death related to Asbestos. Only an experienced Asbestos attorney can tell you if you can file and what compensation is available for your family.

Compensation For Family Members of a Mesothelioma Victim

Mesothelioma Compensation For Recently Diagnosed Patients Family Member Passed

Compensation For People Recently Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Compensation For Recently Diagnosed Patients I Was Diagnosed
Many states allow a claim to be brought by the heirs several years after a diagnosis or death related to Asbestos. Only an experienced Asbestos attorney can tell you if you can file and what compensation is available for your family.
Adrianne Andrus

Reviewed by:  Adrienne Andrus
Chief Editor of Flint law Firm LLC
Client Advocate & Product Liability Paralegal since 2015.
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication, SIU Edwardsville

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