Asbestos is nothing more than a rock. In its natural form it comes in fibers that can be woven into all kinds useful materials. Rocks don’t burn, so asbestos is used anywhere high heat is a problem, especially places like brake shoes. So, why all the concern?
The problem is the small size of the asbestos fibers. They can be less than 10 microns, way too small to be seen with the naked eye. These fibers can pass right through a regular dust mask and lodge deep inside your lungs.
Asbestos particles in your lungs have been linked to at least two diseases. First is a chronic disease called Asbestosis. This disease is scarring of the lung tissue caused by exposure for a long period of time.
The second disease is called Mesothelioma. This disease is a very rare form of cancer in the lining around the lungs or abdomen. It is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. The problem is, nobody is sure how much it takes. Your chances of getting either of these diseases goes up with the amount of exposure you get.
Remember, the idea is to limit your exposure. The best way is to buy an asbestos-approved respirator and use disposable coveralls. Instead of using compressed air to clean brake drums and backing plates, wash with clean brake solvent. Put the residue in plastic bags and dispose of them properly. The disposable coveralls are still a good idea. When you’re done, take them off, put them in a plastic bag and get rid of them.
Most importantly, keep the kids away, and don’t expose anyone else if you don’t have to.
Asbestos is something we are going to have around for a long time; if we use common sense we can use it and protect ourselves at the same time. (Tom will receive a gift certificate for his contribution.)
Asbestos & Moss
Here at Moss Motors, we’ve been attempting to eliminate asbestos products from our inventory for years now, and plan to completely switch over to alternative heat-resistant materials within the next two years. We’ve stopped carrying brake shoes with asbestos lining, and have attempted to seek out vendors that sell alternatively manufactured products. Some of the products that still contain asbestos are exhaust gaskets and head gaskets; in fact, any gasket associated with heat. At the present time, there are no alternative composition gaskets available for many of the gaskets we sell.
If you receive a gasket that we feel may have some asbestos content in it, we take great precautions to package it safely. Our packers wear asbestos-approved respirators, special coveralls and gloves and repackage all gaskets in 6 mil-thick plastic bags, working in a purification hood, so that no dust can escape. Every product thus packaged is labeled clearly in black and yellow.
Obviously, one can’t take these extreme precautions when installing a new exhaust system, but please, take note of the above and remember to be cautious.