Ways Asbestos has Affected the Automotive Industry
Are Mechanics Exposed to Asbestos?
Auto mechanics are at high risk for exposure to asbestos fibers due to the presence of asbestos in some brakes and clutches and gaskets– including some that are still in use today. Miniscule asbestos fibers appear in the dust that surrounds the brake and clutch-related equipment, such as the brake disk and clutch cover. If you are an auto mechanic or have ever repaired your own brakes at home, you may have been exposed to asbestos – even if you couldn’t discernibly see or detect the fibers.
Because there is no visible way of distinguishing asbestos in brake or clutch dust, you should take proper safety precautions unless you are absolutely sure the dust you are exposed to does not contain asbestos. In fact, if you are not a professional mechanic, the EPA strongly recommends leaving DIY brake and clutch repairs to professional who know how to safely handle asbestos.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict requirements for automotive technicians who perform brake and clutch jobs. These mechanics must first determine whether or not asbestos is present by checking auto parts manufacturer’s labels or material safety data sheets.
Methods to Reduce Asbestos Exposure
OSHA defines various approved methods for reducing exposure to asbestos from brake and clutch work. They include the Negative-pressure enclosure/HEPA Vacuum System Method, which uses a pressurized clear box that adheres to brake and clutch equipment by way of a vacuum system.
The Low Pressure/Wet Cleaning Method is another option, as it uses a slightly pressurized spray to trap asbestos dust in a runoff basin and keep it from dispersing through the air. Another method – the wet wipe method – involves spraying a fine, low-pressured mist of water or water with detergent onto brake and clutch assembly parts, and then gently wiping the dust away with a cloth.