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Asbestos in Brake Pads

Date Added: November 21, 2011 06:26:47 PM
Author: ozrat
Category: Asbestos Resources and Information

Most Australians had some contact with various types of friction material, the most common being the brake pad. However there are many of us that are still unaware that until 2003 asbestos based friction material was a favourite Australian brake pad lining; cheap to manufacture, with good performance parameters and very popular with car mechanics.

This is a not a big surprise then that the brake manufactures have been holding on for as long as they could  before the legislation of 2003 forced them to use alternate materials, thus taking out of the Australian market the last legally manufactured asbestos based product.

As with most other asbestos based products, asbestos lined brake pad has shown its deadly face.

The first victims were the car mechanics (first successful verdict against Ford for exposure to asbestos through brake pads in 2008), this is a group most exposed to dust and airborne fibres, for a long time totally unaware to the danger. The practices at the repair shops lacked any form of awareness, training or protective gear. It was a common practice to use compressed air to “blow” the dust off before new brake pads were installed. The brake linings for the heavy vehicles had to be manually riveted on to the brake shoe, to achieve this friction material had to be drilled out, riveted and “cleaned” of dust. Constant mishandling of the asbestos based friction material exposed not only the mechanics but to some degree customers as well.

If we are getting nice and comfortable thinking that the asbestos fibres were only released at the repair shops, think again.

Most of asbestos friction material was released on to our roads and streets, with a largest concentration of asbestos fibres dumped on our busy city streets. This goes even further, our busy city and country trains used asbestos lined brakes, distributing the asbestos fibres while criss-crossing our suburbs and country towns.

There is still the unmentioned group of people; the individuals directly involved manufacturing the brake pads. These people handled the asbestos in its raw state, be it mixed with other ingredients that made-up the raw mix used to manufacture the brake pad.

This leads to the suppliers of the raw ingredient, the asbestos it self. Up to the 2003 it had to be mined, processed and delivered, but this is another story...