Asbestos in Brakes
Brakes and other friction products have long been acknowledged as a major source of asbestos exposure for those who worked on them. Unfortunately, despite attempts to regulate the use of asbestos in the manufacture of friction materials, asbestos continues to be used in aftermarket replacement brake pads, particularly those manufactured overseas.
Because temperatures can rise to as much as 2500 degrees Fahrenheit during the braking process, it is necessary to employ materials with a high degree of heat resistance in brake pads and shoes. Today's better brakes use ceramic and other alternative materials, but those materials are expensive. Asbestos has the advantage of being relatively inexpensive, and though it is no longer mined and processed in the U.S., chrysotile asbestos – the most common type – is readily available from sources in Canada, China and Russia.
It has been reported that as recently as 1993, the Ford Motor Company was still using asbestos linings on its full-sized Crown Victoria sedan in order to address a noise problem in the vehicle's brakes. The same sources report that asbestos brake linings are still used on high-end import vehicles from countries with no asbestos regulations.
Automotive service personnel are advised to assume that any friction products they are working with contain asbestos and to take appropriate precautions. These would include the use of some type of liquid in order to wet down asbestos materials as well as a vacuuming system with a suitable HEPA filter.
Brakes Products Containing Asbestos
The following partial list of brakes products were known to contain asbestos:
|Product Name||Start Year||End Year|
|Abex 121 Super Brakes||1975|
|General Motors Locomotive Brake Shoes||1964||1983|
|Raymark Brake Block|
|Raymark Grey Rock Balanced Brake Set|
|Raymark Master Blocks|
|Raymark Master Size Elastomer-Coated Asb Sleeve|
|Raymark Pyrotorque With Steel Back|
|Raymark Ray Bond|
|Raymark Raybestos Balanced Brake Set|
|Raymark Roll Linings|
|Raymark Silver Edge|
|Raymark Timber King|
|Uniroyal B.F. Goodrich Aircraft Brakes||1940||1985|
|Uniroyal B.F. Goodrich Automobile Brakes||1940||1985|
|Uniroyal B.F. Goodrich Expander-Tube Brakes||1940||1985|
|Uniroyal B.F. Goodrich Light Duty Truck Brakes||1930||1985|
Hazards Associated with Brake Products
Brake mechanics and brake technicians, whether working in conventional automobile repair facilities, in lube and brake shops, or even working on their own cars, are at risk of asbestos exposure when they service, remove, or replace asbestos-contaminated brake equipment. Warehouse workers where asbestos-contaminated brake pads are stored or sold may also be at some risk as well as workers in brake pad manufacturing plants.Sources
Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)
N/A. "Asbestos Brake Dust Still a Hazard."