If you were a mechanic, asbestos exposure was likely
For the current day mechanic, asbestos exposure is not the same threat it was in the years before the creation of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But if you were a car mechanic in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and even the 1970s, it is likely that you were exposed to asbestos.
Weitz & Luxenberg knows that for a mechanic, asbestos exposure sustained while on the job can be fatal. We also know that unfairly exposed mechanics and their families can receive the compensation they deserve. Our firm represented the widow and sons of Mr. Stephen Brown, a former brake mechanic who lost his life to mesothelioma when he was only 51. The jury awarded Mr. Brown's widow and children $53 million in compensation.
Although the amount of asbestos mechanics were exposed to on average was less than the amount drywall-installers, demolition crews, and vermiculite miners were exposed to, a person can develop mesothelioma and asbestos cancer from relatively low amounts of asbestos inhalation. Government regulations have made sure that for the current mechanic, asbestos exposure levels no longer pose the terrible risk they once did.
Fortunately for the modern mechanic, asbestos exposure is not the threat it was
Asbestos exposure levels for mechanics has significantly dropped from the 1970s on. In a study titled “The Hazards of Asbestos for Brake Mechanics,” researchers reported: “Over a 7-year period ending in 1976 (20,21), the U.S. standard for time-averaged exposure to asbestos [for auto mechanics] will have been reduced from 5 million particles per cubic foot of air to 2 fibers per ml (fibers longer than 5 microns).” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1435669/pdf/pubhealthrep00160-0064.pdf)
This drop is due to the creation and enforcement of strict asbestos exposure standards, as well as the pressure created by asbestos exposure lawsuits. The same study mentioned above gives an example of what the situation was like during and prior to the 1970's: “Jacko and DuCharme estimated that the United States annually uses 103 million pounds of asbestos for brake friction materials and 4.5 million pounds in automotive clutch friction materials.”
For all the advances made in the past, the EPA advises vigilance as the only guarantee of safety for the mechanic wary of asbestos exposure:
“Because some, but not all, automotive brakes and clutches available or in use today may contain asbestos, professional automotive technicians and home mechanics who repair and replace brakes and clutches may be exposed to asbestos dust. Brake and clutch dust can be seen when a brake disk, drum, clutch cover, or the wheel is removed from a car, truck, or other equipment.”
If you were a mechanic and now suffer an asbestos-related disease, you have legal options
Asbestos exposure may have been a part of your job, and an accepted material for friction and insulation when you handled it, but asbestos companies knew the dangers of the products they were producing. You cannot reverse its health effects, but you can seek compensation from the companies that exposed you and so many others to asbestos-containing materials.
If you suffer from an asbestos-related disease and have been considering taking legal action, contact Weitz & Luxenberg today for a free legal consultation. It costs nothing to find out more about your options, and you can contact us by phone or by filling out a form on this site.