Most people associate asbestos use with construction materials. Before it was largely banned from use in new products back in the 1980s, asbestos could be found in any product or component that required protection from heat, friction or fire. That included many vehicle parts, such as brake pads, gaskets, clutches, hood liners and insulation -– as well as parts of the vehicle’s body.
Where are you most likely to encounter dangerous asbestos?
It’s still possible to find asbestos in newer vehicle parts. However, a professional (or amateur) mechanic or car restorer is most likely to be exposed to it in older vehicles, like classic cars. While asbestos that’s in good condition isn’t dangerous, older asbestos is.
When brake pads or other vehicle parts that contain asbestos are being repaired or replaced, microscopic fibers are released. If they’re inhaled, they get into the lungs, heart and abdomen. People who are exposed to it repeatedly and/or for extended periods can develop asbestos-related cancers like mesothelioma and other deadly diseases like asbestosis. Malignant mesothelioma can take anywhere from a decade to fifty years to be diagnosable.
What are your employers’ responsibilities?
Repair and restoration businesses where employees work on older cars have a responsibility to provide protective clothing and equipment such as respirators and Tyvek suits for them to minimize their exposure to asbestos fibers. They also have an obligation to provide them with the appropriate training so that they don’t expose themselves or others to this dangerous material and a decontamination area to allow them to remove all traces of it after they’ve completed their work.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition, it’s essential to know what your legal options are for seeking compensation. You may be able to hold a former employer and/or auto parts manufacturer liable. An experienced attorney can help you.