You may not worry about asbestos exposure because you are under the impression that recent and new vehicle brakes and clutches no longer contain asbestos. That is true, but older vehicles and replacement parts may still contain this toxic substance.
Even though asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer may not manifest for decades, you may want to make sure that you use the proper precautions around clutches and brakes that may still contain asbestos.
Reducing exposure to asbestos
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlines the two most acceptable safety methods when working with clutches and brakes that contain asbestos:
- The low pressure/wet cleaning method
- The negative pressure enclosure/HEPA vacuum system method
Under certain circumstances, one may use the following methods in lieu of the two above:
- The wet method
- The spray can/solvent system method
Regardless of what method used, strictly follow all of the requirements and instructions in order to maximize safety and limit toxic exposure.
To be on the safe side...
Since it's virtually impossible to distinguish an asbestos-containing product from one that does not contain any asbestos, you may benefit from making the assumption that every set of brake shoes and every clutch you come into contact with contains asbestos. The following precautions may increase your safety:
- Proper training
- Proper work practices
- Pre-ground, ready-to-install parts
- Equipment maintenance
- Proper cleanup
- Proper personal hygiene
If you work around parts containing asbestos, you may also want to change into clean clothes prior to leaving work. You, or anyone living with you, could end up inhaling any dust or fibers on your clothes.
It is impossible to stress enough the importance of using caution around asbestos. Even though OSHA has acceptable exposure limits, many sources agree that any exposure is too much.
Looking toward the future
If you fear that you suffered from exposure to asbestos while on the job, it wouldn't hurt to see your doctor regularly, even though you may never contract an asbestos-related illness or may not contract one until decades into the future. In addition, it might not be a bad idea to understand what your rights are in connection with this type of toxic exposure. The more you know now, the better off you may be in the future.