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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 Keylock
Raymark Master Blocks
Raymark Master Size Elastomer-Coated Asb Sleeve
Raymark Multibestos
Raymark Pyro-Coin
Raymark Pyro-Torque
Raymark Pyrotorque With Steel Back
Raymark Ray Bond
Raymark Raybestos
Raymark Raybestos Balanced Brake Set
Raymark Rayco
Raymark Raylok
Raymark Raymetl
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.



Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)

N/A. "Asbestos Brake Dust Still a Hazard."

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