Mechanics and Asbestos Exposure
Auto mechanics can be exposed to any number of hazards on the job. From slip and fall incidents to cuts and bruises, it is not uncommon for these professionals to experience injury in their line of work. Exposure to asbestos is also a concern for those in the automotive trade, as many parts and materials, including brakes, clutches, and gaskets have been found to contain the toxic material.
In the automotive industry, brake, clutch, and gasket manufacturers used asbestos long after the health effects of asbestos exposure were known. Indeed, some of the most eggregious conduct in the tragic story of asbestos use in America came at the direction of friction product manufacturers and the automotive industry. Asbestos continued to be used in friction products, including brakes and gaskets into the 1990s, and professional mechanics, shadetree mechanics, and their family members were unnecessarily exposed to asbestos dust as a result. Using compressed air, roughing up new friction material, emptying drum brakes, scraping old engine gasket material are all ways that exposure to asbestos and asbestos products led to mechanic exposure.
How Asbestos Was Used in the Automotive Industry
Due to its heat-resistant properties and strength, asbestos was a highly popular component in automotive parts throughout the 20th century. It is estimated that, during this time, the concentration of asbestos in these products was alarmingly high – ranging from 30 percent to 80 percent. As a result, it is estimated that more than 900,000 American auto mechanics were exposed to asbestos during the course of their careers, especially jobs where there was regular clutch or brake maintenance. This figure does not include the thousands of shadetree mechanics and household family members who were also exposed to asbestos dust as a result of the high concentration of asbestos used in brakes, clutches, and gaskets.
It might not seem like it’s possible today, but auto shops can still be filled with asbestos dust. Because friction manufacturers and automotive manufacturers continued to use asbestos long after the health hazards of asbestos dust were known, asbestos is still present in many garages today, as the small, aerodynamic qualities of asbestos fibers cause released fibers to linger in their environment long after initial manipulation. Products that commonly contained asbestos included:
- Brakes: asbestos was used in millions of disc brakes and drum brakes well into the 1980s and 1990s. Asbestos remained the friction product of choice for car, truck, tractor, and mining brakes long after the health hazards of asbestos were known to manufacturers.
- Hood liners: Millions of vehicles that were manufactured over the course of the last few decades included hood liners that contained asbestos. One key reason for this is the fact that asbestos is highly fire-resistant
- Clutches: Asbestos was highly common in clutch parts in cars, trucks, and tractors, and is even used in some clutch parts today. As parts are worn down, asbestos is disturbed and collects around the clutch compartments. When the clutch cover or wheel is removed, that dust can escape into the air and be inhaled or swallowed
- Valve rings and packing: Asbestos was long the standard material for valve rings and packing materials. Well into the 1980s, asbestos gaskets were used in automobile exhaust systems, including along exhaust pipes
Legal Guidance You Can Trust
If you or someone you know are currently coping with a mesothelioma diagnosis or symptoms of another asbestos-related disease, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Only an attorney focusing in this area of law can assess your medical situation and recommend the best possible course for the recovery of damages or compensation related to your illness.
That’s where the highly-skilled attorneys at Antion McGee Law Group, PLLC, come in. Our firm has built a successful reputation for handling asbestos-related cases and we have a great deal of experience when it comes to representing clients dealing with mesothelioma. We are prepared to work with you and your family to build a strong, convincing case that delivers the best results possible. We will work with you to carefully investigate the occupational history of you and your family, to pinpoint where toxic exposures to asbestos occurred. Whether you are a mechanic, a retired professional, or a loved one of someone employed in the automotive industry, our firm is prepared to stand by you and advocate on your behalf.
If your current medical condition does not allow you to travel to our law office, our West Virginia asbestos axposure lawyers are happy to arrange a meeting at an alternate location, like your home or hospital. Do not delay – let us work with you to protect the future interests of you and your family.
Our dedicated attorneys at Antion McGee Law Group, PLLC welcome your call at (304) 807-0739.