Automotive Workers and Asbestos Exposure

When it comes to asbestos exposure, the list of high-risk occupations is long. From those involved in heavy industry to construction workers, to Navy shipbuilders, it seems like nearly every blue-collar career has workers who are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease. Automotive workers, unfortunately, are in an often-overlooked occupation.

Due to its heat-resistant properties, the mineral asbestos was used in countless materials both consumer and industrial. Whenever an asbestos-containing material is manipulated, deteriorated, crushed, touched, moved, handled, however, there can be deadly health repercussions. Whether ingested or inhaled, asbestos fibers can dramatically impact the lungs and other organs often leading to mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and other cancers.

While most manufacturers of new vehicles stopped using asbestos in 1987, mechanics and others in the automotive industry still face deadly exposure. After-market replacement products often still today contain asbestos, putting mechanics and shade-tree at home DIY owners in direct contact with asbestos fibers. Numerous car parts often contain asbestos, including:

  • Hoodliners
  • Brake pads and brake linings
  • Clutch assemblies
  • Gaskets
  • Valve rings
  • Valve stem packing
  • Friction materials
  • Heat seals

Auto mechanics who work on older cars, with older parts or with poorly regulated aftermarket parts are at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers from the dust created during inspection, installation, and removal.