Most are well aware of the risks automotive technicians and mechanics regularly face, such as electrical shocks and burns. Yet, many are oblivious to the invisible threat of asbestos. This hazardous material was frequently used in automobiles, which increased the risk of asbestos exposure to those repairing those cars. However, despite its limited use today, there remains a high risk of asbestos in the automotive industry.
Is Asbestos Still in Use in The Automotive Industry?
It’s a common myth that asbestos has been banned in the US, but it’s only illegal to use in certain industries, such as construction. While many in the automotive industry recognize the hazardous material is dangerous, the white asbestos was never fully abandoned when it comes to brake pads. Domestic vehicle manufacturers have ditched the use of asbestos in brakes, but due to the heat resistance, strength, and soundproof nature, imports of automobiles and brake pads still contain asbestos.
How Are Workers in The Automotive Industry Exposed to Asbestos?
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published an investigation in 2004, revealing that approximately 1 in 10 unprotected mechanics was at risk for asbestos-related cancers. The dust samples tested during this investigation revealed the dust in repair shops and garages were made up of between 2.26% and 63.8% asbestos fibers. Since repair shops and garage are typically poorly ventilated, the inadequate airflow increases the chance of exposure amongst the workers inside.
What Automotive Parts are Presenting the Highest Risk?
Brakes present a high risk of asbestos exposure. As brakes wear down, asbestos fibers become trapped in the brake housing. When the housing is opened for replacement, it releases the fibers into the air where they can be inhaled. Beyond brakes, other parts dangerous to mechanics include:
- Gaskets: Until the mid-1970s, automobile exhaust systems utilized asbestos gaskets.
- Clutches: As a result of wear and tear, clutches can be ground down and collect asbestos dust.
- Hoodliners: Asbestos was used to insulate automobile hoods to protect it from the heat of the engine.
Nearly all automobile parts no longer use asbestos, but that doesn’t rectify the millions of cars in the US still containing asbestos. In particular, classic cars are very dangerous to work on.
Despite the regulations being imposed upon the hazardous material, the risk of asbestos in the automotive industry is pervasive. If you feel you’ve been exposed to asbestos, it’s critical you have the property inspected and decontaminated. It’s even more important considering the risks of secondhand exposure. That’s why it’s important to hire an expert asbestos abatement team like Fiber Control, Inc. to handle your hazardous material needs. If you’re interested in an inspection of your property, contact us today.