Asbestos Brake Shoes


Likely you’ve heard or seen ads talking about lawsuits involving the use of asbestos. While it often seems these ads are just trying to drum up more business for the Mesothelioma lawyer you can’t help but wonder if there is some validity to the claims and you might be at risk of an asbestos caused cancer like Mesothelioma.

The thing is, if you have done your own automotive maintenance like changing brake pads and linings it is possible. Asbestos is an incredible product. Because of its resistance to heat it was used for years in many products where heat buildup was a problem including many automotive products like brake pads, clutch pads and even gaskets. In the 70’s asbestos started to be phased out of these products, but this still poses a problem for anyone who likes to work on older cars.

If you suspect you might be at risk or you are already starting to have health problems its a good idea to do some research to find out what you need to do and how you might get help in paying the costs of treatment. It is a good idea to get the facts before signing up a lawyer especially a local lawyer that may not have experience with this problem. If you're not having health problems there are some steps you can take to keep it that way.

Asbestos brake dust risk

It’s the dust that causes the risk. While the asbestos was embedded in the pad it was of no real danger. As the brake pad wears down it creates dust. This dust is often released into the air and can be breathed in by the mechanic while servicing the brakes.

Professional brake shops have known the risk of asbestos exposure for years and there are different methods they use to protect employees. Over the years OSHA has published bulletins with guidelines on how companies can protect employees from being at risk, but the general public has by and large remained unaware of the possible health risks. Personally I have changed brake pads and clutches that likely contained asbestos many, many times since I started driving over 25 years ago and was never aware of the need to protect myself from airborne asbestos dust.

Do brake pads contain asbestos?

When purchasing new brake pads you will likely read on the box that your new brake shoes don’t contain asbestos. However, the danger is with the brake shoes that are currently on the vehicle. There is no easy way to know if your current brake shoes were manufactured with asbestos, so it is better to assume that they were.

Minimizing Asbestos Risk

Fortunately it’s not that hard to protect yourself from the possible asbestos dust. The OSHA website states several methods that can be used to trap the brake pad dust and keep it from becoming air borne. One method includes gently spraying water on the brakes (mist, not stream to keep the dust from becoming airborne) and wiping up the contaminants.

If you have a history of doing your own brake work and frequently breathed in the dust from the worn brakes it might be good to research to see if you might be at risk. Many of the sites advertising services for people with Mesothelioma also have guidelines to help you see if you might be at risk. Either way asbestos still poses a threat to people working on older cars, if you replace your own brakes be sure to take the proper precautions.