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Disc Brakes

Asbestos in Disc Brakes

Despite the fact that the hazards of asbestos have been firmly established and are common knowledge, asbestos disc brakes and other friction materials continue to be manufactured with the harmful substance. Although market pressures have led to the demise of domestic manufacture of asbestos friction materials in the U.S. and the domestic asbestos industry has virtually ceased to exist, overseas companies in India, China and other countries continue to produce and market asbestos brake components.

The reason for this is the low cost of asbestos in relation to its capacity for providing heat resistance; Standard Friction Components Ltd. of Mumbhai, India, proudly proclaims on its corporate website that their asbestos brake pads are "highly resistant from corrosion & wear, durable...[and] are easy to use and have long trouble free life."

When front-wheel drive became standard on production vehicles in the early 1990s, it was necessary to replace asbestos linings on front disc brakes with metal or ceramic. Nonetheless, many automakers continued to use asbestos materials on rear-wheel drive vehicles. In 2000, a pair of investigative reporters working for a Seattle newspaper took dust samples from 31 automotive shops across the country and discovered that all of them contained asbestos fibers – in one case, over 63 percent. Another source reports that Ford Motors was using asbestos linings for disc brakes as recently as 1993.

Disc Brakes Products Containing Asbestos

The following partial list of disc brakes products were known to contain asbestos:

Product Name Start Year End Year
Bendix Lined Disc Brakes & Shoes 1968
General Motors Disc Brakes 1966 1985
Raymark "PGP" Disc Brake
Raymark "PGR" Disc Brake
Raymark Disk Brake
Raymark Red Demon Disc Brake
Raymark RP Disc Brake
Raymark RR Disc Brake
Uniroyal B.F. Goodrich Disc Brakes 1940 1985

Hazards Associated with Disc Brake Products

Automotive repair personnel, particularly those working on brake repairs and replacements, are at risk for asbestos exposure, as are those who do their own automotive maintenance and repairs. The exposure hazard extends to family members as well; asbestos fibers transported home in clothing and hair can result in secondary exposure. Workers at any facility that repairs or examines brakes, including lube shops, tire centers, and other automotive facilities may also be at risk, as damaged or worn disc brake components can release asbestos fibers which travel through the air and can be inhaled.

Sources

Sources

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

N/A. "Asbestos Brake Dust Still a Hazard." http://www.aa1car.com/library/trtu796.htm. Retrieved 2 January 2011.

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