In the neighborhood we suddenly had a red alarm phase: Asbestos alarm. Apparently, asbestos had been released while pimping a shopping center. The settlement of that case must have cost hundreds of thousands.
So asbestos. The stuff that used to be widely used in brake linings. Have you ever changed a wheel of your classic? Did you wear a moon suit with full overpressure and filter installation on it? No?
Do you have to worry now?
Fortunately that is not too bad.
Asbestos is a collective name for a number of naturally occurring minerals, which are made up of fine, microscopic fibers. These fibers can be so fine that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. They start living deep in the lungs by inhalation and do unpleasant things there.
Asbestos is a natural product. It is a mineral extracted for example in Russia, South America and Canada. . Asbestos fibers can be divided into two main groups:
- the spiral (or white asbestos)
- the straight or (blue asbestos, brown asbestos, yellow asbestos, gray asbestos and green asbestos)
In the past, blue asbestos was thought to be the most dangerous. That idea is outdated. All types of asbestos are threatening, with the poorest consolation being that the stuff does not cause cancer, but cancer at most promoting is
Only to the color of it rough asbestos one can see to which kind the asbestos belongs. When the material has been processed, that is no longer possible.
It becomes dangerous if the plates or material is broken and asbestos dust is released. These are microscopic fibers that are often inhaled without anyone noticing. These fibers get stuck in the lungs and because they are not degradable and can no longer leave the body, they cause an inflammatory reaction that leads to connective tissue formation. This is also called fibrosis. This condition limits the elastic capacity of the lungs and the patient can therefore inhale less oxygen. In many cases, this causes very nasty lung problems or even cancer.
Our hobby therefore involves brake dust that is released when the wheels or brakes are removed. And that stuff only becomes dangerous when it is breathed in as fine dust. Blowing the brakes with compressed air and without respiratory protection & serious ventilation is therefore not a good plan.
Keeping the vacuum cleaner on is also just a patch. The dust particles can usually go out through the filter bag quite easily.
It can be comforted that a one-off contact with asbestos dust usually remains without consequences. And that any consequences usually only occur after 25 + years.
What is going to be nice is working with a brake cleaner and an old T-shirt as a 'spray booth' around the brake shop.
And when purchasing new brake shoes or blocks, check whether that is not a highly authentic asbestos-containing New Old Stock.