Automobile Mechanics and Mesothelioma
Asbestos is very strong and heat resistant, making it a prime candidate for passenger vehicles. Installing, repairing, and removing asbestos-containing parts could expose those working on them to asbestos fibers, which cause mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer.
While asbestos use significantly declined in the auto industry in the early 2000s, some auto parts sold today still contain it. Brake pads, clutches,and gaskets may contain asbestos and are on many, but not all, vehicles. These products pose a risk to hundreds of thousands of Americans paid to work on cars and those who repair their own vehicles.
Like asbestos-containing materials used in all industries, when they’re intact, new fibers aren’t released, and the health danger is minimal. Problems arise when products are used, wear down, and removed. Fibers are released into the air, which could be inhaled. After many years they may cause mesothelioma.
What Auto Parts Contain Asbestos?
Asbestos was a popular choice for auto engineers and parts suppliers because it’s heat resistant and strong. Some auto components with asbestos include:
- Brakes: Brakes involve slowing or stopping a vehicle by friction. Brake parts rub against each other, generating heat until the car slows down enough or stops. Asbestos brake linings wore down over time, releasing asbestos dust. Brake parts could be made of 35% to 60% asbestos fibers
- Clutches: A clutch is a mechanical link between the engine and transmission. It briefly disconnects the engine from the transmission so gears can smoothly change. Asbestos-containing clutches are in new and older cars. Over time the clutch, and its asbestos, is ground down. Fibers may collect around them and in the transmission’s clutch compartment
- Hood Liners: A hood liner is attached to the underside of a hood, providing sound and heat insulation. Over the years, millions of asbestos-containing hood liners were installed in cars
- Gasket Material, Packing, Heat Seals, and Valves: These parts are connected to other auto components. Before the 1970s, they were used in gas and fluid systems to regulate temperature
Other asbestos-containing products included: air hoses, adhesives, body putties, mufflers, spark plugs, and undercoatings.
How Does Asbestos Endanger Vehicle Mechanics?
Due to their use and age, asbestos fibers are released into the air. Parts degrade and break apart. Professional and home mechanics may lack the proper ventilation or vacuum equipment to work on these parts safely.
Installing and replacing parts could also cause the release of fibers. Repairs, especially of brakes, may require an area to be cleaned. Asbestos could be blown throughout a garage if an air hose is used. Fibers could linger for days and settle on workplace surfaces. They can settle on workers’ hair, clothes, and skin. These fibers may be released into the air when mechanics return home, exposing family members.
Once a part’s installed in a car, a mechanic may not know if it has asbestos or not. If proper precautions aren’t used, a mechanic may risk their health and the health of co-workers and family members exposed to asbestos fibers.
What are the Dangers of Asbestos?
When inhaled, asbestos fibers can go into the lungs. Some will make it to the pleura, a membrane covering the lungs and chest cavity. Fibers may be swallowed directly or after they’re coughed up. They may reach the peritoneum, another membrane lining organs, and the abdomen.
The body’s immune response normally acts against foreign substances in the body. Immune cells try but can’t destroy asbestos fibers, so they die, spill out enzymes, and harm nearby tissue. Asbestos fibers can remain in the body for a lifetime.
With enough fibers in the lungs, scarring, and inflammation, it will cause severely difficult breathing (asbestosis). Asbestos also triggers genetic changes in lung cells, which can lead to lung cancer.
Asbestos fibers in the pleura and pericardium can, over decades, result in aggressive, treatable, but ultimately deadly forms of cancer (pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma). If asbestos fibers are in the tissue lining the heart, it can cause pericardial mesothelioma.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to compensation for what you’ve suffered.
Call Us Today For A Free Consultation
If you or a loved one repaired vehicles and are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma, Satterley & Kelley attorneys can answer your questions, advise you of your rights to compensation, and protect your legal rights. You can reach our Louisville office by calling 502-589-5600 or toll-free at 800-655-2117. You can also complete our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.