There are many chemicals present in auto repair shops that present a health hazard. However, one of the most dangerous and historically most abundant is asbestos. This material was once considered a miracle solution for fireproofing but was later found to cause serious lung issues, including certain types of cancer. Although mostly outlawed in today’s vehicles, there are three places most likely to cause exposure the dangerous fibers in an auto shop.
Brakes, drums, and brake pads all used as the material at one time. Any time mechanics would change out brakes or work on the system, they would risk inhaling the fibers.
Many sound-proofing materials were made of asbestos at one time. Since cars were often insulated with the material to deaden road sounds, there’s a chance that it is present just about everywhere in older cars. It also means moving the material to make repairs or removing it can send fibers into the air and into the lungs.
One of the surprising places the fibrous silicate mineral was used was in adhesives. It was mixed with other materials to form a glue that was used to affix body panels to the mainframe of the vehicle. Any repairs to these parts could disturb the adhesive and release more of the fibers.
Asbestos exposure in auto repair shops was a routine hazard at one time. Though automobiles no longer use it in large quantities, the risk from older vehicles is still significant.