Just don't breathe the dust.
If you can manage to do the job without stirring up the dust, you shouldn't
have anything to sorry about. If you can't do it without stirring up the
dust, then you can wear a dust shield. Either way, there isn't much to be
concerned with doing your own brakes. If you were doing brakes all day long,
day after day, week after week for years, then you would need to worry about
taking in brake dust.
Well, I did the brakes last weekend, so it's too late now. The reason
I'm asking is that I felt a bit funny afterwards, so it would be nice to
know if it was from breathing asbestos, or just ordinary dust. Of
course, I did go over the brakes with a steel wire brush to remove all
the rust, which maybe wasn't that smart...
I'm okay now though.
The dust isn't going to kill you on the spot. It takes years for it to have
an effect. When I was a kid, before they found out that asbestos was a bad
thing, we had that crap all around us, and we lived to tell about it. The
trouble is, it is known to cause cancer, so they gathered it all up so we
wouldn't be surrounded by it anymore. If you breathe a little, it won't hurt
you. If you made sheets from it, and slept with it for years, then it would
do some serious harm.
In most countries they haven't put asbestos in brakes for many years, but if
you remove old ones sometimes you don't know how long they've been on the
car for so there could be a risk.
I work in banking and insurance and have had more than half a dozen clients
die from asbestos related illness and am currently dealing with another who
is about to.
It is considerably more dangerous than smoking a cigarette, as just one
exposure can be enough to kill you over time, as happened with one of my
clients last year (it took about 15 years though). If you smoke a cigarette
your body can get rid of most if not all of the pollutants you put into your
lungs from the cigarette, but dust and fibres from asbestos tend to lodge in
there permanently and can give you lung cancer, especially if you also smoke
Personally, although I don't wear a seatbelt or a proper motorbike helmet
and keep loaded guns in the house, smoke dope and drink full-fat milk, I
always take precautions when dealing with asbestos or anything that looks
like it after having seen what it can do.
TUV pads, including all OE BMW pads, are required to have GRAPHITE in them,
and the reason why Pagid, Jurid, Textar and other TUV approved German pads
are so dusty. This heavy black brake dust should not be confused with
Brake pads used to contain asbestos, but IIRC it was banned from this use
about 20 years ago in the EU. Other countries might still allow it, but
it's presumably illegal to import such pads to a country which has banned
*A closed mouth gathers no feet.
Dave Plowman firstname.lastname@example.org London SW
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