For decades, asbestos was a common ingredient in brake pads due to its excellent heat resistance, durability, and friction properties. However, as the health risks associated with asbestos exposure became evident, there was a growing need to find safer alternatives. In this article, we will explore why asbestos was used in brake pads, why its use has been banned, the materials that have emerged as suitable replacement and how you can ensure asbestos free brake pads.
WHY WAS ASBESTOS USED IN BRAKE PADS?
Asbestos found its way into brake pads because of its unique characteristics. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be spun into fibers, which possess remarkable properties. These properties made it an ideal choice for brake pad manufacturers:
- Heat Resistance: Asbestos fibers can withstand high temperatures without breaking down. This quality ensures that brake pads remain effective even under extreme heat generated during braking.
- Friction and Durability: Asbestos fibers provide the necessary friction to stop a vehicle efficiently. This durability resulted in longer-lasting brake pads, reducing the need for frequent replacements.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Asbestos was abundant and relatively inexpensive, making it an attractive option for manufacturers seeking cost-efficient solutions.
WHY IS IT ILLEGAL TO USE ASBESTOS IN BRAKE PADS?
It became well known that asbestos exposure can be linked to various respiratory diseases, including lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Workers in the automotive industry, as well as consumers who worked on their vehicles, are at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers released during brake maintenance or replacement.
Despite its excellent performance in brake pads, the use of asbestos was banned in many countries due to severe health concerns. Now-adays over 50 countries have banned asbestos. Itis now well known asbestos exposure can be linked to various respiratory diseases, including lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Workers in the automotive industry, as well as consumers who worked on their vehicles, are at the highest risk of inhaling asbestos fibers released during brake maintenance or replacement.
To protect public health, several governments, including The European Comission extended the ban on asbestos to friction products such as brakes and clutches. The bans aimed to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure in both manufacturing and vehicle maintenance, prioritizing the safety of workers and consumers.
WHICH MATERIAL CAN REPLACE ASBESTOS IN BRAKE PADS?
Several materials have emerged as suitable replacements for asbestos in brake pads. The two main categories of non-asbestos brake pad materials are organic compounds and synthetic fibers. These materials have demonstrated similar braking performance to asbestos brake pads:
- Organic Brake Pads
- Semi-metallic Brake Pads
- Ceramic Brake Pads
HOW TO ENSURE ASBESTOS FREE PADS
Determining the presence of asbestos in brake pads simply by visual inspection is not possible. The only reliable way to confirm the absence of asbestos in brake pads is through testing. At our Kavo Parts, we conduct annual testing of all our brake pads for asbestos content. An asbestos expert takes samples, which are then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Many suppliers, including ourselves, adhere their manufacturers to strict Non-Asbestos Declarations. However, it’s crucial to inquire if your supplier conducts their own brake pad testing. We believe it’s essential to regularly check your products, at least once a year, using random sampling and, of course, with every shipment from a new supplier. Additionally, during visits to our suppliers, we ensure their commitment to our agreements. If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to contact your supplier and inquire about their asbestos safety measures.
One convenient way to confirm that a brake pad is asbestos-free is to look for the ECE R90 certification. This certification establishes the minimum parameters that brake pads must meet to ensure safety. One of the key requirements for this certification is that the brake pad material must not contain asbestos. ECE R90 approved brake pads undergo extensive testing and fully comply with all R90 standards.