Asbestos is a mineral once widely used in building materials as well as in vehicle components subject to extreme heat, including brake pads and linings, gaskets and transmission parts. It was also used in some fiberglass and plastic body work. Tennessee residents should know that, though asbestos is rigid and heat-resistant, its fibers, if inhaled or ingested, can cause cancer.

Specifically, asbestos exposure is linked to mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Ever since the U.S. passed a partial ban on the mineral in 1987, there has been a drop in the number of asbestos-containing products being manufactured, but the thing is that people who work, for example, in old buildings or on old cars still run a risk for exposure.

Anyone who loves to restore classic and vintage cars, then, should beware. For instance, asbestos dust may have collected in a car’s brake drums and transmission housing due to continual friction. If one blows this dust out with an air gun, everyone nearby will be affected.

Enthusiasts and shade tree mechanics, lacking the proper training, are at an especially high risk for exposure. It’s important to wear the right personal protective equipment: a respirator, at least, and perhaps even a Tyvek suit. Rather than an air gun, they should use a HEPA vacuum to collect the dust.

Sadly, it can be too late for many mechanics to benefit from such advice. Many get mesothelioma and yet are not diagnosed until years or decades later. As for those who believe they have grounds for a mesothelioma case, they may want to consult a lawyer. It could be that their employer knew about the danger of asbestos exposure and took no reasonable steps to keep them safe. The lawyer may help build up the case against the defendant.