Asbestos in Elevator Brake Shoes Exposure and Risks

Asbestos, known for its durability and ability to withstand high temperatures, was added to elevator the brake shoes as an “improvement.” Unfortunately, the wear on the brakes shoes, as well as the manufacturing, installation and repair processes, releases harmful asbestos fibers into the air. When inhaled, the fibers can cause serious health problems, including cancer known as mesothelioma.

Free Mesothelioma Justice Guide

Elevators rely on brake systems to stop at each floor and keep passengers safe. Elevator brake shoes, or pads, are the part of the brake that applies friction in order to slow down or stop the elevator. The material of the brake shoes must be strong, durable and able to withstand high the levels of heat the friction creates.

Asbestos in Elevator Brake Shoes Explained

Asbestos has been incorporated into friction products, like elevator brake shoes, since the early 1900s. It can account for a staggering 40 to 50% of the brake lining.

The grinding of the brake linings, as they work to slow down or stop the elevator, releases asbestos into the environment, where it can then be inhaled. It’s no surprise that elevator brake shoes pose a health risk to those who manufacture, repair or even ride elevators.

Did You Know?

Warnings on Asbestos in Brake Linings

Since 1975, environmental and occupational health regulating bodies have specifically recommended posting warning signs in any area brake repair work was to be done.

Even though the dangers of asbestos have been known for decades, and even though countless people have lost their lives to asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestos continues to make its way into brake products. In Canada, as of 2016, brake pads made from asbestos were still being marketed, sold, installed and maintained.

Free Mesothelioma Justice Guide

Exposure to asbestos has led to thousands of mesothelioma diagnoses. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma Justice Guide will help you understand your rights and know the next steps.

Request Your Free Mesothelioma Justice Guide Now

Who Was Exposed to Asbestos Elevator Brake Shoes?

Workers removing or installing brakes have the highest risk of asbestos exposure. Millions of asbestos fibers can be released during the process of servicing the elevator brake shoes.

Some activities known to release asbestos fibers into the environment include:

  • Cleaning brakes with compressed air blow-out
  • Grinding and beveling of new truck brake linings
  • Exposure during brake wear
  • Dry brushing, or using a dry rag
  • Wet brushing, or using a wet rag
  • Wire brushing
Did You Know?

Working With Asbestos in Confined Spaces

Working in the confined space of an elevator shaft aggravates the exposure to asbestos. Asbestos can linger around the work environment long after service is done and can be breathed in by everyone. The airborne fibers can present a continued hazard for months or years following.

Asbestos fibers can also cling to clothes, skin and hair and travel to secondary environments, where they continue to present a hazard. Studies have reported cases of spouses who have developed mesothelioma due to secondhand contact with asbestos. Mesothelioma has even been observed in pets.

Health Risks of Asbestos in Elevator Brake Shoes

Asbestos causes many health problems. Some are less serious, such as chronic coughing and phlegm. Others, like asbestosis and pleural plaques, conditions that cause scarring and inflammation of the lungs and fill the lungs with fluid, are more serious.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer specifically caused by asbestos exposure. When the microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged within the linings of the lungs, heart and abdomen. Over time, asbestos fibers can cause genetic mutations to healthy cells, transforming them into cancerous mesothelioma cells.

Because this type of cancer often does not present symptoms until the more advanced stages, it typically has a poor prognosis.

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages is available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Workers with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses may qualify.

Find Out If You Qualify

Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

Many asbestos product manufacturers knowingly exposed innocent people to asbestos, such as through elevator brake shoes. Victims of mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases have been awarded legal compensation for their suffering.

If you were exposed to asbestos in elevator brake shoes and have developed mesothelioma, contact the Justice Support team today. Call us at (888) 360-4215 or request our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to understand your next steps as a mesothelioma victim.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

View 4 Sources
  1. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, “Asbestos in Brakes: Exposure and Risk of Disease”, Retrieved from Accessed on June 19, 2018
  2. Automotive News Canada, “Asbestos Kills, but it’s Still Allowed in Canadian Brake Parts”, Retrieved from Accessed on June 19, 2018
  3. United States Department of Labor, “Application of Asbestos Standard's Brake and Clutch Repair Provisions”, Retrieved from Accessed on June 19, 2018
  4. United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Current Practices for Preventing Asbestos Exposure Among Brake and Clutch Repair Workers”, Retrieved from Accessed on June 19, 2018
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