Asbestos brakes – an option for brake pad replacement most repair shops are aware of as a cheaper alternative to OEM or even ceramic brake pads. Over the past week in Canada, attention has been brought to the re-introduction of brake pads containing asbestos in the province of Ontario. Asbestos pads have been banned for a number of years but they have snuck into Ontario by manufacturers not complying with the regulations. The risk – unsuspecting mechanics are being exposed to the harmful substance. In essence, asbestos fibres are packed tightly together and are only harmful when disturbed. In the case of brake pads, when one steps on the brakes the pads are used (disturbed) releasing the fibres into the surrounding area and the rotors or brake drums. When the brakes are replaced, the risk of exposure to asbestos is greatly increased. The concern here is asbestos has been linked to cancer.
Anyone servicing brake systems needs to be aware of the potential risk and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. This protection will include latex gloves and face mask to protect the mouth and nose from inhaling the fibres. Beyond this, shops need to push for brakes that do not contain asbestos to reduce the risk of being exposed to the substance.