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Automotive Mechanics & Asbestos Exposure

Automobiles have been around since the start of the 20th century, and, as is the case with all new innovations or technologies, they come with the need for skilled workers to maintain and repair them. As consumer demand for cars soared during World War II, demand for skilled workers to service them grew, too.

Auto mechanics are responsible for installing, repairing, and replacing the parts in vehicles’ brake systems, but historically other types of auto workers used asbestos-containing products, as well. These include:

  • Bag Opener
  • Bale Roller
  • Brake Mechanic
  • Carder of Asbestos Yarn
  • Clutch Assembler
  • Crusher
  • Cutter
  • Design Engineer
  • Electrician
  • Fabricator
  • Foreman
  • Forklift Operator
  • Foundry Worker
  • Grinder
  • Hopper Loader
  • Laborer
  • Loader
  • Beaterman
  • Boilermaker
  • Machine Operator
  • Maintenance Mechanic
  • Millwright
  • Mixer
  • Molder
  • Operator
  • Patcher
  • Pipefitter
  • Plant Worker
  • Plumber
  • Production Engineer
  • Production Worker
  • Puncher
  • Runner
  • Salesman
  • Brake and Clutch Repairman
  • Saw Operator
  • Sheet Metal Worker
  • Spinner of Asbestos Cloths
  • Steamfitter
  • Stock Preparation Worker
  • Supervisor
  • Tow Motor Driver
  • Troubleshooter
  • Truck Driver
  • Warehouseman
  • Weaver
  • Welder

Automotive Mechanics and Asbestos Exposure

While demand for automobiles flourished, so too did a growing industry “need” for something else: a mineral known as asbestos. Manufacturers and asbestos companies raved about the strength, flexibility, fire-resistance, and affordability of asbestos. However, as medical research connected the dots between asbestos and serious health risks behind the scenes, occupations like automotive mechanics continued working with and using the mineral.

Little did these workers know they were exposing themselves to a lethal carcinogen on a daily basis.

Throughout a majority of the 20th century, asbestos was commonly used in products that automotive mechanics handled regularly. These products included:

  • Brake pads
  • Brake linings
  • Clutch facings
  • Gaskets
  • Transmission parts

Even to this day, many brakes are still made with trace amounts of asbestos. When asbestos brake pads, linings, clutch facings, and gaskets wear down and become fragile, asbestos fibers can go airborne and be inhaled by automotive mechanics during a routine repair or part replacement. Because there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, even a small amount of exposure can prove deadly over time.

Help for Auto Mechanics Exposed to Asbestos

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has conducted multiple studies on automotive mechanics and asbestos exposure over the years, noting that “automobile mechanics have been exposed to asbestos in the past, mainly due to the presence of chrysotile asbestos in brakes and clutches.” In fact, asbestos exposure among automotive mechanics has been shown to lead to pleural plaques – no matter how much exposure occurs.
Today, there are approximately 749,000 automotive mechanics employed in the U.S., many of whom have been working in the industry for decades. Anyone who worked with the above-mentioned products prior to the 1980s may be at risk for asbestos-related disease and cancer.

That’s because up until the 1980s, asbestos was still being used in automotive materials like brake pads, linings, gaskets, and clutch facings. This not only puts automotive mechanics at risk, but also their loved ones who may experience take-home exposure. If you were an auto mechanic or worked in the automotive industry before 1980, you may be at risk of developing mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos.

Sokolove Law is here for you and your loved ones. Exposure to asbestos through an occupation like automotive maintenance and repair is a serious matter and type of case with which Sokolove Law has extensive experience. For nearly 40 years, we’ve successfully fought to get victims and families the justice they deserve. Contact us today for a free legal consultation to see if we can help you.