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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.