Automotive industry impacted by asbestos

A recent asbestos-related case in the United Kingdom has highlighted the risks associated with workers employed in the automotive industry. The latest case follows a similar suit involving Kelvin Parker, a former installer of insulation and suspended ceilings at the Longbridge site.

Parker, 54, was initially diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2007. After passing away on November 19, 2008, his family continued to pursue legal action against the company responsible for his asbestos exposure.

Exposure to asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that typically develops in the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. In most instances, mesothelioma victims are unaware of their condition until symptoms arise and the cancer has already reached the latest stages of development, leaving the patient with a poor prognosis.

The new case involves another employee who previously worked at the Longbridge site in Birmingham, England during the early 1960s, putting automobiles together.

This employee is seeking compensation for developing malignant mesothelioma and is looking for witnesses who may have worked at the site at the same time. The man’s lawyer said, “We have got a client who was exposed to asbestos dust and we are looking for witnesses. But this issue isn’t one that’s particular to one person. There could be hundreds of other people who are at risk.”

The automotive industry has used asbestos in products for decades, including brake pads and linings, clutch facings, valves and gaskets. Vehicles manufactured today are still built with asbestos brakes and clutches, just in smaller quantities than older parts.

Microscopic asbestos fibers that have been disturbed have the potential to remain in the air for a long period of time. The long duration of airborne asbestos fibers not only creates an immediate hazard, but increases the risk of workers inhaling the toxic particles even several days afterward.

Automotive mechanics are one of the main occupations still affected by asbestos exposure. Working on cars that contain older parts creates a constant risk and protective gear is rarely worn to prevent exposure.

Additional information about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure may be found through the Mesothelioma Center.

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