Asbestos found its way into thousands of products. For a time, nearly every vehicle had asbestos in it because of its strength, heat resistance, and low cost. Professional and home mechanics are victims of asbestos-related diseases because repairs and replacements of these parts often cause fibers to spread in the air, where they are inhaled and swallowed.
Satterley & Kelley, PLLC attorneys in Louisville represent those in Kentucky and around the country who developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disease due to exposure while repairing and maintaining vehicles. If you worked on vehicles and are diagnosed with an illness caused by asbestos, call us at 855-385-9532 to discuss your potential compensation for your medical costs, pain, suffering, and other damages.
Most asbestos-containing products were taken off the market in the late 1970s due to increased regulation and lawsuits by those injured by asbestos. There have been many types of asbestos-containing vehicle parts over the years. Most of them were brake components and clutch parts.
Asbestos-Containing Brake Parts
Asbestos was commonly used for several reasons:
- Heat Resistance: Asbestos is highly heat-resistant, making it ideal for applications where friction generates significant heat, such as braking systems. Asbestos-containing materials helped dissipate heat generated during braking, preventing brake fade and maintaining braking efficiency.
- Friction Properties: Asbestos fibers have excellent friction properties, providing reliable stopping power and improved braking performance. The incorporation of asbestos in brake linings and pads enhanced their ability to grip the brake drum or rotor, ensuring effective braking even under demanding conditions.
- Durability and Wear Resistance: Asbestos fibers are exceptionally durable and resistant to wear. Brake linings with asbestos lasted longer than alternative materials, reducing the frequency of brake replacements and improving the longevity of the braking system.
- Cost-Effective: Asbestos was readily available and relatively inexpensive compared to other friction materials. This affordability made it an attractive choice for manufacturers seeking to produce cost-effective, low-cost brake components.
Low-cost, imported brake parts containing asbestos are still sold in the US.
Asbestos was used in vehicle clutches for many of the same reasons as brake parts:
- Heat Resistance: Clutches, like brakes, generate significant heat during operation due to the friction between the clutch plate and the flywheel. Asbestos’ heat-resistant properties made it an ideal material to withstand high temperatures and prevent clutch slippage, ensuring efficient power transfer.
- Friction Properties: Asbestos fibers have excellent friction characteristics, providing the necessary grip and torque transmission required for the proper functioning of a clutch. Asbestos-containing clutch facings offered reliable engagement and disengagement, allowing smooth shifting and optimal performance.
- Durability and Wear Resistance: Asbestos fibers are highly durable making them well-suited for clutch applications. Asbestos-containing clutch facings exhibited longevity and extended service life, reducing the need for frequent clutch replacements and cutting costs for vehicle owners.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Asbestos was a cost-effective choice for clutch manufacturers, as it was readily available and inexpensive compared to alternatives. Asbestos’ low cost contributed to its widespread use in clutches and other transmission parts.
Asbestos-containing clutch parts are still sold in the US.
Diseases Caused by Asbestos Exposure
Long-term asbestos exposure can lead to severe health risks and the development of many asbestos-related diseases. Paid mechanics and those working on their vehicles at home were, and in some cases still are, exposed to asbestos.
The time between exposure and showing disease symptoms can be several years or decades. Some of the long-term health that come with asbestos exposure include:
- Mesothelioma: This is a rare and aggressive cancer affects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity (pleural mesothelioma), the lining of the abdomen and abdominal cavity (peritoneal mesothelioma), and heart (pericardial mesothelioma).
- Lung Cancer: Prolonged asbestos exposure significantly increases the risk of lung cancer. Smoking combined with asbestos exposure worsens the risk.
- Asbestosis: Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition characterized by scarring and inflammation of lung tissue. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to fibrosis, causing progressive shortness of breath, persistent coughing, chest tightness, and reduced lung function. It is a non-cancerous condition but can be debilitating and potentially fatal in severe cases.
- Pleural Disease: Asbestos exposure can cause various pleural diseases, including pleural thickening and plaques. Pleural thickening involves the scarring and thickening of the pleura, the lining around the lungs, which can restrict lung function and cause respiratory symptoms. Pleural plaques are discrete fibrous plaques that form on the pleura, which may or may not cause symptoms.
- Other Cancers: Asbestos is been linked to an increased risk of developing cancers in other organs, such as the larynx, colon, and gastrointestinal tract.
If you think past or current asbestos exposure affects your health, seek medical evaluation and discuss your situation with a healthcare professional. If you’re diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, here are some suggestions:
- Seek Medical Treatment: Asbestos-related diseases require specialized medical care. Consult with a healthcare professional with experience in diagnosing and treating asbestos-related conditions. They can guide you in managing symptoms, treatment options, and necessary follow-up care.
- Understand the Diagnosis: Educate yourself about your disease, available treatments, and potential complications. This will allow you to make informed decisions about what to do next.
- Inform Family Members and Loved Ones: If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, notify your family members and loved ones. They need to be aware of potential risks or exposure to protect their health.
- Legal Considerations: Consult with Satterley & Kelley, PLLC, so we can assess your case, discuss potential legal options, and guide you through the process of seeking compensation if your asbestos exposure.
- Support Networks: Reach out to asbestos-related disease support groups, both online and in-person, to connect with others who have had similar experiences. These support networks can provide valuable emotional support, information, and resources.
Your asbestos-related disease and personal situation is unique, and the actions you should take depend on your circumstances. Talk to healthcare professionals, our attorneys, and support networks for personalized guidance and support tailored to your situation.
Call Us Today For A Free Initial Consultation
If you or a loved one are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you may receive financial compensation for the harm you suffer. Call us toll-free at 855-385-9532, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a Satterley & Kelley, PLLC lawyer.