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Imported brake parts may contain asbestos

Over the last 50 years, one of the most frequent causes of asbestos-related illnesses in North Carolina and elsewhere was asbestos fibers in brake pads and other brake components. The problem was exacerbated by the need to replace brake pads on older automobiles and trucks as they aged. American automobile parts manufacturers have phased out asbestos in their brakes as of 2015, but the threat of asbestos product exposure has re-emerged due to imported brake linings and brake components that contain asbestos.

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association sent a letter to the United States Environmental Agency on Sep. 6 urging the agency to include asbestos in the list of 10 hazardous and toxic substances pursuant to the recently enacted Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act in June of this year. The act requires the EPA to identify 10 high-priority chemicals and to undertake extensive risk evaluations of each. The manufacturers group wants the EPA to add asbestos to the list in order to restrict the importation of brakes made with asbestos fibers.

Many mechanics were exposed to asbestos when they replaced brake pads on a vehicle. The process of removing the worn-out brake linings often required the mechanic to break or chisel the asbestos-containing material off of the brake pad. Doing so released asbestos fibers into the air, where they were inhaled by the mechanic and others in the vicinity. The new threat is especially acute for do-it-yourself mechanics who replace their own brake linings.

As we have noted on so many occasions in this blog, asbestos continues to pose a significant environmental health hazard. Anyone who believes that they have been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers should seek a competent medical examination by a medical provider experienced in dealing with asbestos-related diseases. If a positive diagnosis is returned, a consultation with a lawyer who specializes in handling product liability claims based upon asbestos exposure can provide a helpful evaluation of the case and an estimate of the probability of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: Bloomberg Legal News, "EPA Asbestos Review Sought Due to Imported Brake Parts Risks," Pat Rizzuto, Sep. 7, 2016

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