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Many people are aware of the health risks associated with asbestos, but there may not be a full comprehension of how prevalent and widespread asbestos exposure is in multiple professions. The spotlight was placed on asbestos in insulation and asbestos exposure for railroad workers, but one profession that may have been overlooked is car mechanics.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued guidelines on the prevention of asbestos among car repairmen way back in 1986 and listed mesothelioma (a very deadly form of cancer) as a potential consequence of exposure to asbestos fibers from brakes and clutches.

The EPA’s warning specifically stated "asbestos released into the air can linger long after a brake job is done and since asbestos can spread 75 feet from the work area, it can be breathed in by everyone inside a garage, including customers.”

Despite these warnings, there are still “alarmingly high” levels of asbestos contamination found in gas stations and brake repair shops, according to an investigation by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The Seattle PI investigation examined 31 brake-repair garages including some in Richmond, Virginia (VA). They found high levels of asbestos concentrations in 21 of the locations.

"It’s an intolerable risk," said Dr. William Nicholson, professor emeritus at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Dr. Nicholson is exactly right, especially considering there are 750,000 brake mechanics in the United States. That’s 750,000 people who could develop mesothelioma cancer one day.

What’s truly frustrating is the health risks of asbestos exposure continue to be downplayed since the time between exposure and diagnosis of a deadly cancer can be extensive. In fact, many people exposed to asbestos won’t know that they’ve developed cancer until 30+ years after the fact.

Unfortunately, many car repair shops and mechanics think asbestos is a thing of the past and they have nothing to worry about. That is not the case. The threat of developing a deadly form of cancer from asbestos exposure is still possible today. This is unacceptable and action needs to be taken.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.


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