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Brake Repair


701. Brake Repair

Asbestos has been a component of brake pads and linings, clutch facings and various gaskets for many years. Mechanics should assume that all brakes have asbestos–type shoes; worn non–asbestos brake shoes cannot be readily distinguished from asbestos–type shoes. It is recommends that mechanics perform brake and clutch work in an area isolated from other work area

The following brake cleaning techniques can result in the release of asbestos into the air and consequently may lead to employee exposure:

  • Using a compressed air hose to clean drum brakes;
  • Wiping with a dry rag or brushing dust from the assembly;
  • Wiping with a wet rag or brush – asbestos will still scatter even if the rag or       brush is wet. Furthermore, once dry, the rag or brush can spread the fibers around the work area;

Using liquid squirt bottles or solvent sprays;

  • Using a water hose;
  • Using a shop vacuum cleaner – a shop vacuum filter is not fine enough to collect asbestos fibers.

Whenever possible, use pre-ground, installation-ready brake linings and clutch facings. In situations where asbestos exposures cannot be eliminated entirely, they should be reduced to the lowest possible level. To accomplish this, consider:

  • Using specially designed “wet collection” equipment. This is generally a portable sink (which sits on a reservoir typically containing an aqueous brake cleaning solution) which can be rolled directly under the area to be cleaned.
  • Using enclosure equipment with a HEPA (High-Efficiency, Particulate Air filter) vacuum cleaner for brake cleaning. Enclosure equipment for clutch repair is under development. For more information on using this type of equipment, and what to look for when evaluating enclosure equipment for brake cleaning, please visit:
  • Where friction materials containing asbestos must be machined, beveled, or lathe-turned, adequate local exhaust ventilation equipment connected to a HEPA vacuum collector should be used.



  • Avoid cleaning brake parts or housing with compressed air.
  • Contain all cleaning fluids and properly dispose of them.
  • Use a HEPA vacuum for floor clean-up after brake repairs.



  • Use asbestos free brake pads.
  • Use biodegradable cleaners.