Although cases of asbestos exposure in older schools have gotten much media attention, automotive workers can also experience the same related illnesses. An EPA report revealed that approximately 750,000 automotive service technicians could be exposed to asbestos while working with certain parts.
For most of the 20th century, asbestos was in clutches and brakes. Other car parts that might have been made with it include spark plugs, air conditioning housing, adhesives, and seals. This was common practice until the 1980s when the U.S. government regulated the use of asbestos in cars. Even so, specific models, including the Ford Crown Victoria, had asbestos components until 1993.
Asbestos diseases, like mesothelioma, can take many years to develop, so mechanics working back then might be sick now. Today’s mechanics working on older vehicles could be exposed to asbestos, and the fibers could also be present in aftermarket parts from countries like China and India. This can also be risky with newer, luxury vehicles with imported parts.
It is impossible to detect asbestos-containing automotive parts by sight, and the wrong cleaning methods cause increased chances of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. For example, wiping off parts with brushes and rags makes dormant asbestos airborne. Vacuum cleaning without the appropriate filters is also problematic, as is using compressed air to clean drum brakes.
Water hoses and spray bottles dampen asbestos fibers but do not entirely remove them from the air. They can adhere to clothes and skin; once dried, mechanics bring the problem home. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations like HEPA vacuum cleaning methods that auto repair shops can employ.
Some of the most common symptoms of this type of cancer include:
This rare cancer can affect the stomach, heart, and lungs, but auto mechanics can also develop asbestos-related lung cancer. Exposure to cigarette smoke and environmental pollutants like exhaust increases the risk for this, and the symptoms are similar to mesothelioma.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from health problems related to asbestos exposure, contact our Philadelphia asbestos lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. Call us at 215-569-4000 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we represent clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.