The automobile industry was one of the driving forces behind the growth of the United States. Today, automobiles are everywhere you look and have been for decades. They provide reliable and easy access to transportation. Unfortunately, they also contained significant amounts of asbestos.
Asbestos in Automotive Parts – Products Containing Asbestos
Asbestos was used in automobile parts because of its heat-resistance capabilities. It was commonly used in brake and clutch components. Other auto parts that contained asbestos include hood liners, gasket materials, heat seals, and valve rings.
As part of normal use, asbestos brake linings wore down as a result of friction, releasing large amounts of microscopic asbestos fibers. These fibers often became trapped within the brake housing. When auto mechanics or owners opened the housing, the dust containing asbestos was released into the air and breathed in. Similarly, clutch systems naturally wore down and caused asbestos to become ground down and released into the air as dust.
An estimated 900,000 auto mechanics were exposed to asbestos fibers from brake and clutch parts. Despite the risks of exposure to asbestos fibers, the use of asbestos never completely ended. Asbestos can be found in linings within high-end foreign automobiles and in some aftermarket products.
Due to the sheer size of the automotive industry, the number of companies that manufactured products that contained asbestos are numerous. Some of these companies include automobile manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, and Daimler-Chrysler, as well as parts manufacturers and suppliers including but not limited to:
Bendix- a division of Honeywell,
Advance Auto Parts,
Fisher Auto Parts,
Genuine Parts Company,
O’Reilly Automotive, Inc.,
Ren Auto Parts, and
Austin Auto Parts
It is important to keep in mind that the companies named above are just a fraction of the companies that made automotive products with asbestos.
Dealing with Products Containing Asbestos
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued warnings to mechanics to assume that all brake systems contain asbestos. In addition, OSHA has informed of cleaning techniques that may release asbestos fibers into the air:
- Using a vacuum cleaner;
- Using compressed air to clean drum brake systems; and
- Wiping parts with a dry rag.
OSHA prefers automotive repair shops to use one of the following specific practices to control asbestos dust if they perform more than five brake or clutch jobs per week:
- Negative-Pressure Enclosure/HEPA Vacuum System Method: Through this method, a special box made up of clear walls or windows is fitted tightly around a brake or clutch assembly thereby keeping any asbestos fibers from escaping into the air; or
- Low Pressure/Wet Cleaning Method: This method involves the use of a low pressure spray that wets the assembly in order to keep dust from escaping into the air. The runoff is collected in a catch basin.
Helping Victims of Asbestos Exposure
Automobiles have been allowing us to travel easily and inexpensively for over 100 years. Unfortunately, for a large portion of that history, automobiles were manufactured with products that contained asbestos. If you believe that you have been injured as a result of exposure to asbestos, speak with an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, we travel the country to provide compassionate legal representation to victims of asbestos exposure.