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Asbestos Transportation and Automotive Materials

Automotive materials and other transportation equipment are a common source of asbestos exposure, as the toxin can be found in brake linings, brake pads, transmission plates and more. For manufacturers and workers that came into contact with these items every day at work, there is a great risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma.

Transportation and Automotive Materials and Asbestos

The use of asbestos automotive components, such as brakes, dates back around 120 years. Asbestos was respected for its friction properties and ability to withstand high temperatures.

For brake linings, brake pads, drum brakes, elevator brake shoes and disc brakes, asbestos helped increase friction and support the stopping motion, particularly with heavy machinery and large vehicles. In addition to brakes, clutch linings and transmission plates often used asbestos thanks to its heat resistance, allowing components to withstand high temperatures while protecting equipment and operators from fires.

Production of asbestos-containing transportation and automotive equipment primarily took place in the early 1900s. As the dangers of asbestos were discovered, regulations and bans were put into place, causing many automotive manufacturers to shut down and face a flurry of asbestos-related lawsuits.

Transportation and Automotive Materials and Asbestos Exposure Concerns

The transportation and automotive industry is large, encompassing hundreds of thousands of jobs. Though the use of asbestos has plummeted, it’s still prevalent in older vehicles and pieces of equipment, and may still be used in production of certain vehicle parts in trace amounts, continuing to expose many workers in present day.

Transportation and Automotive Occupations with Asbestos Exposure:

  • Assembly-line workers
  • Auto parts manufacturers
  • Heavy machinery operators
  • Mechanics
  • Auto body workers
  • Glass installation and repair workers
  • Diesel service technicians

The most people hold transportation/automotive positions in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and California, though these positions exist across the entire United States. Asbestos exposure in these positions can happen through a variety of circumstances, from manufacturing equipment that contains asbestos decades ago to replacing or repairing damaged components, disturbing the material and releasing asbestos fibers.

As a result, many cases studies regarding malignant mesothelioma have focused on those holding the positions listed above. Automotive manufacturers have faced an array of lawsuits from former employees and their families coping with a mesothelioma or other asbestos disease diagnosis, seeking compensation for their pain and suffering from exposure on the job.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari
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Sources

Cely-Garcia MF, Torres-Duque CA, Duran M, et al. Personal exposure to asbestos and respiratory health of heavy vehicle brake mechanics. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. February 5, 2014;25:26-36.

Finkelstein MM. Asbestos Fibres in the Lungs of an American Mechanic Who Drilled, Riveted, and Ground Brake Linings: A Case Report and Discussion. The Annals of Occupational Hygiene. May 1, 2015;59(4):525-527. doi:10.1093/annhyg/mev008.

Meisenkothen C. Malignant Mesothelioma in a Motor Vehicle Mechanic: Case Report and Review of the Literature. NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. June 20, 2016;26(4):524-542. doi:10.1177/1048291116655526.