Mechanics and Asbestos Exposure

Compassionate Attorneys Fighting for Auto and Aircraft Mechanics Exposed to Asbestos

Auto mechanics, both professionals and hobbyists, may have unknowingly been exposed to hazardous asbestos fibers when working with asbestos-containing brake pads, clutches, and other auto parts. When these components degrade or are damaged, they can release dangerous dust particles into the pair. Even family members of mechanics can be at risk of exposure due to their possible presence in their homes. 

Similarly, aircraft mechanics who worked on military and commercial planes may have also been exposed to asbestos due to a variety of asbestos-laden products installed in the aircraft. This includes brake pads and heat shields, as well as products designed for worker protection, such as asbestos gloves. 

If you are an auto or aircraft mechanic who developed mesothelioma after asbestos exposure, our capable attorneys can help you get just compensation. Call (855) 744-1922 or contact us online today.

How Auto Mechanics Are Exposed to Asbestos

Automotive manufacturers have relied on asbestos for its cost-efficiency and heat-resistant properties for many years. Parts such as aftermarket brake linings, clutches, and heat seals still contain traces of the substance today, even in more luxurious imports like Land Rover vehicles. As these components gradually wear down, they release asbestos fibers, which can then land on auto mechanics' hair, clothing, and skin if not properly handled. These small particles can stay suspended in the air for extended periods and be inhaled or ingested by anyone nearby. 

Auto workers in venues with inadequate ventilation or a lack of proper vacuum equipment are more likely to become exposed when handling asbestos-contaminated materials. Even restoration enthusiasts working from home garages could be at risk if not equipped with proper safety measures for working on this dangerous material.

Dangerous Cleaning Methods for Auto Mechanics

Many mechanics are unaware of the risks posed by asbestos-containing brakes, as it is not possible to tell whether or not a brake contains asbestos simply by looking at it. As such, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that all mechanics assume that brakes contain asbestos. Studies have demonstrated that inadequate cleaning methods used in auto shops can lead to a heightened risk of mesothelioma and other illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos fibers.

To limit the possibility of asbestos exposure, auto mechanics should avoid the following cleaning techniques:

  • Compressed air
  • Brushes and rags
  • Spray bottles
  • Vacuum cleaning
  • Water hose

How Aircraft Mechanics Are Exposed to Asbestos

Aircraft maintenance technicians, also known as AMTs, are in charge of maintaining commercial, military, and private aircraft operated in the United States. During repairs, these mechanics would often come into contact with a range of components that utilized asbestos for its high heat and friction resistance. This repeated exposure to the toxic substance put them at risk of developing disease or other harmful health conditions resulting from inhalation or ingestion.

Specifically, mechanics who worked with brakes prior to the 1970s were highly likely to be exposed to asbestos. That is because many brake pads and other components of brakes were manufactured using this dangerous material. Every time a mechanic replaced or worked on a brake pad, they had to manipulate it and tug it back and forth, releasing microscopic particles of asbestos into the air.

Mechanics responsible for installing insulation around motors and electrical components on airplanes were also at particularly high risk. Asbestos was often used to insulate these components that may have otherwise been prone to catching fire. In order to properly do this job, mechanics had to cut, saw, sand, or otherwise remove the components, a process which caused them to inhale minute particles of asbestos as well as any adhesives and epoxies in the area.

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Asbestos Products Associated with Auto Mechanics

Asbestos was widely used as a material in automobile brakes and clutches for most of the 20th century. Approximately 900,000 mechanics were exposed to asbestos fibers through brake and clutch work, which would occur during cleaning or beveling surfaces during a repair. Moreover, asbestos was present in many other auto parts such as drum and disc brakes which contained 35% to 60% chrysotile asbestos. 

In spite of the dangers of asbestos exposure, it was not until the 1980s that the U.S. government regulated its use in cars. Some models like Ford's Crown Victoria still held asbestos components up until 1993.

Asbestos can still occasionally be found in some aftermarket products, including:

  • Brakes
  • Clutches
  • Gaskets
  • Heat seals
  • Hood liners
  • Packing
  • Valves
  • American Association for Justice
  • MATA
  • The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis

Asbestos Products Associated with Aircraft Mechanics

Asbestos was widely used in many types of aircraft components. In addition to its insulating effects against heat and sound, it proved to be a flexible but resilient material able to withstand extreme temperatures and turbulence.

Aircraft mechanics likely worked with a variety of components and products containing asbestos, including:

  • Blankets
  • Brake assemblies
  • Cloth
  • Engine heat shields
  • Engine mounts
  • Engine shrouds
  • Fabrics
  • Gaskets
  • Gloves
  • Insulation materials
  • Molded brake blocks
  • Repairing equipment
  • Valves

Manufacturers of Asbestos Automotive and Aircraft Components

Though there is still no federal asbestos ban, significant regulations introduced in the 1980s led to the shuttering of many manufacturers of asbestos-containing auto parts. A handful of companies continue to produce asbestos-containing auto components, while firms who previously manufactured asbestos-contaminated aircraft parts no longer do so due to liability concerns. Older products previously manufactured by a variety of companies may still be encountered in automobiles and aircraft alike.

Some of the most prominent companies that produced asbestos-containing automobile components include:

  • Advance Auto Parts
  • Austin Auto Parts Inc. 
  • AutoZone
  • Canton Auto Parts Inc. 
  • Daimler Chrysler 
  • Federal-Mogul
  • Fisher Auto Parts Inc. 
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Forest City Auto Parts Company Inc. 
  • G&T Auto Parts of Mid Orange Inc. 
  • Genuine Parts Company 
  • Globe Foreign Auto Parts Inc. 
  • LAS Replacement Parts Inc. 
  • LM Scanlon Inc. 
  • O’Reilly Automotive Inc. 
  • Pep Boys
  • Potsdam Auto Parts Inc.
  • Raymark Industries 
  • Ren Auto Parts
  • Scanlon’s Auto Parts Inc. 

Some of the manufacturers of asbestos-laden aircraft parts include:

  • Cleveland Wheel & Brakes
  • Fairchild Republic Co.
  • Honeywell/Bendix
  • Goodyear
  • Goodrich
  • Johns Manville
  • Northrop Grumman

How Asbestos Exposure Can Cause Mesothelioma in Auto and Aircraft Mechanics

When materials containing asbestos break down over time or are disturbed during repair work, tiny fibers become airborne, which can be inhaled by auto and aircraft mechanics or even carried home to their families. Inhaling even small amounts of asbestos over time can cause irreversible damage to the body's cells and lead to mesothelioma, a rare and fatal form of cancer. The most common form of mesothelioma is exclusively caused by inhalation of asbestos particles, which lodge in the pleura (the thin membrane surrounding the lungs) or peritoneum (the thin membrane surrounding the abdominal cavity). Once lodged there, they create inflammation and scarring that can eventually lead to tumor formation. It typically takes decades after initial contact with asbestos before symptoms begin appearing. Once diagnosed, the disease has an extremely poor prognosis with few effective treatments available.

Getting Compensation for Auto and Aircraft Mechanics and Their Families

Mesothelioma has no cure and will undoubtedly lead to an unimaginable level of pain and suffering. It is also a disease that could be completely avoided if manufacturers of asbestos-laden products had not put profits over people. Fortunately, several avenues for getting compensation for mechanics exposed to asbestos are potentially available. You may be able to file a claim with an asbestos bankruptcy trust fund or a personal injury lawsuit. If a loved one passed away due to mesothelioma or another asbestos-linked illness due to their job as a mechanic, you may also be able to pursue a wrongful death claim.

At SWMW Law, our attorneys have the unique combination of skills, experience, and resources needed to effectively litigate these claims and get you and your family the compensation you deserve. We are committed to bringing a more personal approach to asbestos litigation and will be here to support you during this difficult time. We have already recovered over $750 million for our clients, so you can rest easy knowing your case will be in capable hands. 

We handle these cases nationwide and are ready to fight on your behalf – because accountability matters. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling (855) 744-1922 or contacting us online.

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