United States
   Environmental Protection
Current Best Practices For
Preventing Asbestos
Exposure Among
Brake and Clutch
Repair Workers
March 2007

Who can this information help?
This information can help professional automotive
technicians  and home mechanics who repair and
replace brakes and clutches.  By law, most
professional automotive shops must follow the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration's
(OSHA) regulations at 29 CFR 1910.1001, specifically
paragraph (f)(3) and Appendix F.  These are mandatory
measures that employers must implement for
automotive  brake and clutch inspection, disassembly,
repair, and assembly operations.  State and local
governments with employees who perform brake and
clutch work in states without  OSHA-approved state
plans must  follow the identical regulations found
under the EPA Asbestos Worker Protection Rule

While home mechanics are not required to follow the
OSHA work practices (or the identical requirements
under the EPA Asbestos Worker Protection Rule), by
using these practices home  mechanics can minimize
potential exposure to asbestos if it is present and
thereby reduce their potential risk of developing any
asbestos-related diseases.

What is asbestos and how can it
cause health problems?
Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral fiber that is
highly heat  resistant, can cause serious health
problems when  inhaled into the lungs.  If products
containing asbestos  are disturbed, thin, lightweight
asbestos  fibers  can be released into the air. Persons
breathing the air may then inhale asbestos fibers.
Continued exposure can increase the amount of fibers
deposited in the lung.  Fibers embedded in the lung
tissue over  time may result in  lung diseases such as
asbestosis,  lung cancer, or mesothelioma.  It can take
from 10 to 40 years or more for symptoms of an
asbestos-related condition to appear.  Smoking
increases the risk  of developing  illness from asbestos

For more information on the  health effects of asbestos
exposure, visit the Agency for Toxic Substances and
Disease Registry (ATSDR) at

Why should mechanics be concerned
about 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. There are also many small dust
particles that cannot be seen with the eye. If the brakes
contain asbestos, the dust may contain asbestos
fibers, which could be inhaled.

    Do  not  blow dust

     from  brakes and

Using compressed air, a brush (wet or dry), or a dry rag to
clean brake assemblages has the potential  to expose
you to asbestos fibers.

How do I know if I have asbestos
brake or clutch components?
You cannot tell whether brake or clutch components
contain asbestos simply by looking at them.  For
newer vehicles and parts,  auto manufacturers, auto
parts retailers and packaging information, such as
labels or Material Safety Data Sheets, may be able to
tell you whether or not your brake or clutch
components contain  asbestos.  For older vehicles, or
vehicles that have had  brakes replaced, you may not
be able to easily find out if the brake or clutch
components contain asbestos.

As a best practice, OSHA states that mechanics
should  assume  that  all  brakes have asbestos-type
shoes.  Worn non-asbestos-type brake shoes cannot
be readily distinguished from asbestos-type shoes.  If
a mechanic assumes incorrectly that a shoe is a non-
asbestos type and fails to  utilize brake dust control
procedures,  increased  asbestos exposure may result.

As a professional automotive
technician, what work practices  must I
follow to reduce potential exposures
to asbestos?
If you work in a commercial automotive shop that
performs work on more than five brake or clutch jobs
per week, OSHA regulations require the use of one of
the following work practices or an equivalent method
such as the spray can/solvent system.

Negative-Pressure Enclosure/HEPA Vacuum System
Method This type of enclosure and vacuum system
has a special box with clear plastic walls or windows,
which fits tightly around a brake or clutch assembly to
prevent asbestos exposure.

Low Pressure/Wet Cleaning Method This specially
designed low-pressure  spray equipment wets down
the brake assembly and catches the runoff in a special
basin to prevent airborne brake dust from spreading in
the work area, (over)

If you work in a commercial automotive shop that
performs work on no more than five brake or clutch
jobs perweek, OSHA regulations allow the following
method instead:

Wet Wipe Method This method involves using a spray
bottle or other device capable of delivering a fine mist of
water, or amended water (water with a detergent), at
low pressure to wet all brake and clutch parts. The
brakes can then be wiped  clean with  a cloth.

As a  home mechanic, what can I do to
protect myself from asbestos
If you are not able to determine whether your brakes or
clutch contain asbestos, you may want to consider
having  your brakes or clutch serviced at a commercial
automotive shop. OSHA requires special work
practices  for  professional  automotive technicians.  If,
however,  this is not possible and you do not have
access to the equipment  professional  automotive
shops use to comply with  the OSHA work practices,
you may want to consider using the wet wipe method
described in this brochure (www.osha.gov/SLTC/
asbestos/standards.html). This method has been
deemed acceptable  by OSHA for shops that service
no more than five brake or clutch jobs per week.

Work Practice Don'ts for Home Mechanics:
It is recommended that you:

• Do not use compressed air for cleaning.
 Compressed air blows dust  into the air.

• Do not clean brakes or clutches with a dry
 rag, brush (wet or dry), or garden hose.

• Do not use an ordinary wet/dry vac
 without a high-efficiency particulate air
 (HEPA) filter to vacuum dust. Invisible
 particles of brake or clutch dust can  stay in
 the air and on your clothes long after a job is

•Avoid taking work clothing inside the home or
 tracking dust through the house after
 performing  brake and clutch work to prevent
 exposing your family to dust particles that may
 contain  asbestos.

Work Practice Do's for Home Mechanics:
 It is recommended that you:

• Use pre-ground, ready-to-install parts.

• If a brake or clutch lining must be drilled, grooved,
 cut, bevelled, or lathe-turned, use low speeds to
 keep down the amount of dust created.

• Use machinery with a local exhaust dust collection
 system equipped with HEPA filtration to prevent
 dust exposures and work area contamination.

• Change into clean clothes before going inside the
 home and wash soiled clothes separately.

• Minimize exposure to others by keeping
 bystanders, as well as food and drinks, away
 from the work area.

How do I dispose of waste that
contains asbestos?
Employers of professional automotive technicians
must ensure that they or their waste haulers dispose
of waste that contains brake or clutch dust, including
wet rags used to wipe this dust, in accordance with
Federal and local regulations, including the OSHA
asbestos waste disposal regulations.  OSHA
regulations (29  CFR  1910.1001(k)(6) and 29 CFR
1910.1001(j)(4)) require that,  before waste containers
with brake and  clutch dust and other asbestos waste
in them are collected, they must be sealed.  The
containers also must be impermeable and must be
appropriately labeled. These regulations do  not apply
to home mechanics.  For home mechanics, EPA
recommends that asbestos waste  be double-bagged
and disposed of following appropriate local
regulations to minimize exposure.  You may  contact
your state asbestos representative for more disposal
and other information.

Where can  I get additional information?
OSHA has issued a Safety and Health Information
Bulletin on brake and clutch repair that is available at
EPA's  Asbestos Worker Protection Rule regulations
apply to certain state and local government employees
(40 CFR Part 763, Subpart G). For more information
on EPA 's Asbestos Program visit:
              or call 202-554-1404.