5

I have been reading articles like this one and this one, talking about how asbestos is still a problem with car brakes. There is even a post in Mechanics stack exchange from 2016 asking about asbestos in brakes.

Is asbestos a potential component of ceramic disc brake pads? I understand that it's a potential risk of it being in semi-metallic brake pads.


Relevant Articles

This comment suggests that asbestos may not be a concern with ceramic brake pads.


What I Purchased

This is more for reference, than having the question be specifically about this particular model of brakes

Edit: I called O'Reilly's parts dept on 2/10/2020, and was told these brake pads do no contain asbestos.

  • 1
    Have you asked O’Reilly? That would be my first logical step. – Solar Mike Feb 9 at 22:34
  • @SolarMike I just gave O'Reilly a call, and put their answer in my question as an edit. However, I wanted the question to be more generic (about ceramic brake pads, in general), not about that particular model number/manufacturer of brake pads – Intrastellar Explorer Feb 10 at 17:50
  • 1
    If you wanted generic, then you should not have mentioned a manufacturer... – Solar Mike Feb 10 at 18:43
  • 1
    Perhaps you should avoid any brake dust - given the fine particulates.... – Solar Mike Feb 11 at 7:06
7

It looks like it is still up to the manufacturer if they use asbestos or not.

NAO (Non Asbestos Organic) are guaranteed to have No Asbestos, buy they wear quickly and have poor performance. I wont use them due to decreased braking performance, I think they are dangerous to use on a modern car.

You would have to contact other manufacturers to find out if they use asbestos in any particular pad you are interested in, I would not trust any parts store to know this.

"In 1989, the EPA proposed a ban on the manufacture, import, processing, and sale of asbestos-containing products to be phased out over seven years. But asbestos industry supporters challenged the ban in court.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the first stage of the EPA ban -- which prohibited new uses of asbestos, **banned imported asbestos products, and ended the asbestos use in roofing and flooring felt, sheeting and tile, and clothing --

But overturned the second stage, which would have stopped asbestos use in products such as brake drum linings, automotive transmission components, gaskets, and other friction parts, as well as in the production and use of roof coatings, brake blocks, paper, pipe, and shingles made with asbestos.

A changing landscape: Asbestos in North America

Nevertheless, the automotive industry in the US recognizes the threat asbestos-containing brake part imports posed to auto mechanics’ health, and in 2010 California and Washington passed legislation that will require brake pads sold or installed in these states to have reduced levels of copper (no more than 5% by weight by January 1, 2021 in both states and no more than 0.5% copper by weight in California by January 1, 2025) and other heavy metals (no more than 0.1% by weight of asbestos, cadmium, chromium, lead, or mercury as of January 1, 2015).

On January 21, 2015, several automotive industry trade associations signed the Copper Free Brakes initiative, a voluntary Memorandum of Understanding with the EPA and the Environmental Council of the States, that extends standards adopted in California and Washington nationwide.

Like the US, auto manufacturers in Canada ceased the installation of asbestos-containing brake parts more than a decade ago, but in December 2016 the federal government in Canada announced a comprehensive ban on asbestos imports and use by 2018.

These initiatives have implications for the automotive brake parts aftermarket in North America, restraining future sales of low-cost imports from China and India, which are more likely to contain asbestos. Replacement brake part sales in the US and Canada will see a shift in the product mix toward alternatives such as NAO brake pads (which are less expensive, but also less durable, than asbestos-containing alternatives) and high-value, durable ceramic brake pads.

. Source

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you @Moab for the NAO fact. Also, thanks for pointing out that (unfortunately) I will have to contact the manufacturer directly. I was hoping the answer for ceramic brakes would be: "no, they don't contain asbestos". But it does seem to be murky waters, and the only way to be sure is to contact manufacturer – Intrastellar Explorer Feb 10 at 17:40
  • 1
    All the major manufacturers have websites with contact information. If it is a house brand you would have to ask the parts store who makes them, then contact that company. – Moab Feb 10 at 18:06
3

If these are new brake pads, they will not contain asbestos no matter who makes them or what they are made of (ie: metallic, semi-metallic, or ceramic).

According to this Los Angeles Times article from 1991:

Under federal law, asbestos brake production is supposed to stop in 1993 and auto manufacturers are supposed to stop using it in new cars by 1995. By 1997, all asbestos brake linings are supposed to be off store shelves and out of new cars.

That would mean if you got some really old brake pads from a no-name store, there might be a chance of it containing asbestos, but it is such an outside chance, it's hardly worth mentioning. If your car is newer than 1995, I'd have no fear ... especially in California.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    "they will not contain asbestos no matter who makes them" - but your quote only talks about the USA. What about the rest of the world? – JBentley Feb 10 at 11:52
  • Thank you @Paulster2 for the comment and article reference. I agree, in California, I am probably safer. I still do think asbestos is in the USA in general though. If you read the articles linked in the original question, they talk about how international suppliers can still provide parts containing asbestos, the USA may still import them, and asbestos dust is still found in auto shops across the country. – Intrastellar Explorer Feb 10 at 17:55
  • @JBentley - The OP asks about brake pads purchased at a major parts store in California. I'm just answering the question as stated. Yah, China and India still use the stuff, however, many countries are on to them about this and won't allow importation. While asbestos is not good for the lungs, people forget how well it works for the job it's required to do. I mean, it works really, really well. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 11 at 12:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.