Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral made of long, thin, crystallized pieces of silica running parallel to each other. Most people know it is used in insulation, but not everyone is aware of the risk it poses to auto mechanics.
Auto mechanics often suffer asbestos exposure when performing routine procedures such as using an air hose to clean off brake surfaces. Even though manufacturers have moved away from using it, asbestos is still found in older-model cars. The following other car parts also potentially contain asbestos:
- Hood liners
- Thread seal tape
- Valve rings
- Clutch disks
- Pressure plates
Inhaling microscopic particles of silica dust released from asbestos causes the sharp particles to become lodged inside the lungs and respiratory tract. The body can remove some of them, but the majority remain embedded in the epithelial tissue for the rest of a person’s life. One or more of the following serious health problems then occur:
- Benign pleural disease
- Lung cancer
It is virtually impossible to tell whether a car part contains asbestos, so there is always a possibility for exposure. Autoworkers’ risks should thus be minimized by following OSHA guidelines for keeping garages well-ventilated. Furthermore, a comprehensive workers’ compensation policy offers additional protection in the case of accidental inhalation.