Our Washington DC Injury Attorneys Discuss Asbestos Risks in the Automotive Industry

By Peter DePaolis

Asbestos exposure has been linked to mesothelioma, lung cancer, throat cancer, and other serious illnesses. Workers in certain occupations, including the following, continue to be at increased risk of developing an asbestos disease:

  • Auto mechanics
  • Aircraft mechanics
  • Railroad workers
  • Construction and demolition workers
  • Textile mill workers
  • Factory workers
  • Shipbuilders
  • Plumbers and electricians
  • Firefighters

Victims of asbestos exposure may be entitled to compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos disease, an experienced Washington, D.C. injury attorney can help you get the justice you deserve.

Asbestos-Containing Car Parts

Although asbestos use in the United States has declined sharply since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all new uses in 1989, asbestos has not disappeared from the automotive industry entirely. Unfortunately, the EPA ban does not apply to asbestos uses developed prior to 1989, including certain auto parts. The EPA warns that “automotive brakes and clutches available or in use today may contain asbestos,” which means auto mechanics remain at risk of being exposed to toxic asbestos dust. Inhaling asbestos dust can lead to lung scarring and inflammation and serious health complications.

Asbestos Exposure in the Auto Repair Industry

Eric Smith, who worked as an auto mechanic from the time he was 16 years old, died on September 24, 2012, at the age of 52, one year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. According to the Ilkeston Advertiser, Smith’s wife says he routinely blew asbestos dust off of brake and clutch pedals without wearing a face mask or protective clothing. The deputy coroner classified Smith’s cause of death as “industrial disease,” a sad reminder of the dangers of asbestos in the automotive industry.

According to the EPA, “millions of asbestos fibers can be released during brake and clutch servicing.” To help prevent asbestos exposure among commercial auto mechanics, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires the following safety measures for brake and clutch repair workers:

  • If more than five clutch or brake jobs are performed weekly: Use a negative-pressure enclosure/HEPA vacuum system method, a low pressure/wet cleaning method, or an equivalent method
  • If five or fewer clutch or brake jobs are performed weekly: Using any of the above methods, or, alternatively, a wet wipe method

Employers have a duty to provide workers with safe working conditions, including warning them about potential asbestos risks and providing them with proper safety equipment and training. If you or your loved one has been harmed by occupational asbestos exposure, contact a qualified Washington, D.C. injury lawyer today to learn about your legal rights.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.