I know this was discussed before. But just want to revisit the issue.

Bought a set of ceramic pads (Raybestos) to replace the pads on my car. There is a ton of warning all over the box about wearing respiratory protection, covering the dust and hosing it down, etc.

Looking on the box it does not say whether it has asbestos or no, no mention on their site either. So which one is it finally? I can’t imagine any company having the nerve to sell Asbestos containing material in the western hemisphere, but then I don’t get all the warnings either. One site I was looking at was saying it is because of the silica content.

Any input/factual better?

There’s no asbestos content in the brake pads you purchased. However, Raybestos doesn’t know if the brake components you plan on replacing contain asbestos. And that’s where the dust will be. Not on the new brake components. Therefore, they put those warnings on the box for that reason.


Inhaling any inorganic fine dust is very bad for your lungs. Asbestos, silica and ceramic dust for example are known carcinogens.

Brake dust is more of a problem when replacing brake shoes on drum brakes than when replacing brake pads on rotor brakes. With drum brakes, the years of brake dust accumulation builds up and remains within the drum; with open-to-the-air rotor brakes, the brake dust is dissipated to the air over the course of wear.

Inhaled fine dust lodges permanently in the lung’s alveoli, where it leads to necrosis of the surrounding tissue (black-lung disease). The brake dust inhaled at age 17 is still in the body at age 70.

When replacing brake shoes, the brake drum should be cracked open a bit and the inside of the drum sprayed with brake cleaner. The brake dust is absorbed in the liquid brake cleaner, where it can be wiped clean by paper towels when the drum is completely removed.

I shake my head in disbelief when I think of the hundreds of brake jobs I did years ago where the first step was to remove the brake drums, and then clean the brakes off with an air hose. There was never a concern that the lingering cloud of dust that we then breathed was filled with asbestos.

I suspect many contributors to this forum did the same thing.

Joe, me too.

Asbestos does get lodged in the lungs and remains there pretty much for life. But the other dust components from brakes do not remain for life, they are eventually expelled.

The problem with any dust is that in enough quantities, it can overwhelm the lungs. You could literally choke to death on dust. The dust from todays brakes are an acute hazard, not a chronic hazard.

Joe, same here, I remember coughing on the dust a few times at the garage. I was surprised to hear that T&R comment a few months ago that current pads labeled ‘organic’ can have asbestos in them. I thought that had be done away with. Guess not.

But I do believe that most of the cancer issues are with miners and fabricators. I haven’t heard near as much about garage-related asbestos problems.

Here’s hoping!

You should not inhale any form of foreign matter, just as a precautionary measure. And Raybestos certainly has liability in mind with this sticker. Should someone in future determine a component of their pad material to be a health risk, they’re covered.

It’s no different from the warning stickers on the stepladder,

or the one on my professional level bicycle frame that said “Warning: mountain biking may be dangerous to your health”.

Or the one on the sealed plastic bag containing the part I just bought that says “warning: keep out of reach of children. Plastic bags may present a suffication hazard”.

Or even the warning on the cardboard windshield sunscreens that say “warning, do not drive with sunscreen in place”.

<font color="Blue>keith, September 16 —

<font face=“Times” color="Blue>"Asbestos does get lodged in the lungs and remains there pretty much for life. But the other dust components from brakes do not remain for life, they are eventually expelled."

Tell that to the coal miners who breathed coal dust for many years and developed black lung disease. It seems their coal dust was not “eventually expelled” as you claim. You are dead wrong with that statement.

Fine dust that gets into the lungs travels a one-way street. It lodges into the minute alveoli where oxygen in air is transported over thin tissue into the bloodstream. There is no backward pressure on the dust particles to blow them out of the lungs. Eventually the fine dust is encapsulated by the surrounding tissue which leads to scaring, fibrosis and possibly necrosis. If the dust is carcinogenic (it need not be), then cancer is the result.

I don’t think you should downplay the seriousness of inhaling any fine dust, no matter its composition.

Coal mine dust is also an acute hazard, not a chronic one. However any chronic exposure to an acute hazard becomes an acute hazard. You don’t get Black Lung Disease from one trip down into the coal mine.

Asbestos fibers have a greater than 3:1 length to diameter ratio. That is why they get caught in the lungs and can’t be expelled. Other forms of dust get trapped in the mucus and does eventually get expelled.

I did not mean to downplay the hazards of other forms of dust. But their hazards are different than asbestos. This is especially true of silica. There are forms of silica sand that have a very low level of radioactivity in them. One brand mined by Dupont and sold for the investment casting industry is one such sand.

I have been to foundry meetings where Dupont shows up in force to counter any claims made by Safety folks about this hazard. Their claim is that you can run a Geiger counter over the bags of sand and not detect any radiation. It is true that it is the lowest energy type of radiation and in low quantities, it cannot penetrate the bag. But there is not a bag inside your lungs that protects the soft tissue from direct contact with the sand dust or any radioactivity from it. But this is another topic for discussion.

You don’t have to be a mechanic servicing brakes to breathe in this dust.
Just hang around a heavily trafficked road.

Before you do any brake job, it’s a good idea to spray brake parts cleaner on them and let them dry to prevent inhalation of foreign matter.

…with paper towels underneath to catch the runoff for easy disposal.

I just make sure I’m upwind when I remove a brake drum.

Fine dust that gets into the lungs travels a one-way street. It lodges into the minute alveoli where oxygen in air is transported over thin tissue into the bloodstream. There is no backward pressure on the dust particles to blow them out of the lungs.

It depends on the size, shape and composition. You are always inhaling particles (dust, pollen, etc). Larger particulates (>2.5 microns) never make it to the alveoli and are carried out of the airways via upward-moving mucus and coughing. Smaller particulates get into the alveoli where their fate depends on their size, shape and elemental composition.

There is a class of white blood cell called the “macrophage” that ingests particulate contaminants and carries them away for disposal (via the spleen and liver, I think). Some particulates, like asbestos and other forms of crystalline silica, have a size, shape or composition that prevents macrophages from carrying them away, instead, they provoke a local inflammatory response which can persist for a long time, since the particles persist.

Ultra-fine particulates (<100 nanometers) can actually cross into the bloodstream and have cardiovascular effects.

Anything containing silica has a warning these days, even interior latex paint has a warning that it contains silica and not to sand it without protection. And of course, ceramics are just oxides of silica, with other elements.

Asbestos has not been used for years. But as others mentioned, any dust can give you respiratory problems. You can get a face mask at a home products store. Use brake cleaner to remove the dust.

JTS, that’s what I thought, but T&R said otherwise, and my googling around tended to confirm that ‘organic’ pad can still contain asbestos.

I think body filler dust just stays in there. I have been away from the shop for a long while now. Some mornings I think I am going to cough up a lung. Funny thing when I go scuba diving I don’t cough for days after. I like most of us did not take all the precaution’s I should have.

I don’t think the body filler dust stays in there, but as I said earlier, prolonged exposure to an acute hazard can have a long term consequences (words to that effect). Bondo corp rates their body filler as a 2 for health hazard, mostly because of the styrene.

Modern filler is mostly safe, according to this,

The main components are plastic (polystyrene or polyester) and talc. Neither of which is particularly dangerous from a chemical point of view, but loading a lot of particulates into your lungs may overwhelm the clearance mechanisms. And it depends on the size of the particles, and I have no idea whether sanding body filler can make particles smaller than 2 microns.

But even modern fillers contain some crystalline silica, and who knows what was in fillers 20 or 40 years ago.