Automotive repair is recognized as a potential source of asbestos exposure for mechanics and technicians.
Asbestos can be found in brake pads and linings, clutches, hood liners, gaskets and valves. One particular area of concern has been whether this exposure is sufficient to cause
lung cancer and other asbestos-related health problems.
With the introduction of front-wheel drive vehicles in the 1980s, asbestos brake linings were largely phased out of production. They may still be found, however, in certain high-end vehicles and may be available for aftermarket sale to consumers. Asbestos brake linings are not banned in the U.S. Mechanics who remove and replace worn out brake pads may be at risk of inhaling tiny asbestos fibers released into the air when the brake is removed, particularly if it is falling apart or crumbling or must be scraped or ground down.
A recent study on automobile brakes and mesothelioma, Assessing specific causation of mesothelioma following exposure to chrysotile asbestos-containing brake dust, was published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. This study sought to determine whether brake dust containing
chrysotile asbestos was a potential cause of mesothelioma. Researchers utilized the principles of forensic epidemiology and the Bradford Hill criteria to determine whether a cause could be established. A summary of the study's results are as follows:
We conclude that there is a "net" of evidence favoring a causal relationship between brake dust-associated chrysotile exposure and mesothelioma. The industry-sponsored position that there is insufficient evidence to support a contiguous "chain" of causation is specious from both a methodologic and evidentiary perspective. Finally, we suggest a semiquantitative approach for the evaluation of individual causation in putative cases of mesothelioma with a history of significant brake dust exposure.
Countless asbestos fibers may be released into the air while a mechanic is working on brakes. They may be inhaled or swallowed without a worker knowing it, and once they enter the body they are not easily expelled. Because of their size and shape, asbestos fibers may become lodged in lung tissue or in the lining of the lungs, stomach or heart. They may remain there for decades, causing irritation and scarring and paving the way for serious health problems such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
Auto mechanics who work with asbestos brake linings and pads should wear negative pressure respirators and vacuums fitted with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
If you have worked or are currently working as an auto mechanic, it is important to be aware of the risks of asbestos exposure in your occupation. It is also important to consider any legal options you may have if you have developed any type of health problem caused by asbestos inhalation or ingestion. You may be entitled to medical care and financial benefits or compensation for your asbestos-related condition.
Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik, LLP represents mesothelioma patients across the country who are experiencing the harsh consequences of asbestos exposure. We have more than 35 attorneys in our Asbestos Litigation Department and have the resources and experience to handle these cases in house – a claim few firms can make with any real authority. Learn more about our firm and how we can help you by contacting our offices for a free case review. We also handle mesothelioma cases on a contingent fee basis, so you pay nothing unless we win your case. Contact a mesothelioma lawyer to learn more.