Evaluation of asbestos exposure within the automotive repair industry: A study involving removal of asbestos-containing body sealants and drive clutch replacement

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Two independent assessments were performed of airborne asbestos concentrations generated during automotive repair work on vintage vehicles. The first involved removal of asbestos-containing seam sealant, and the second involved servicing of a drive clutch. Despite the relatively high concentrations (5.6–28%) of chrysotile fibers detected within bulk samples of seam sealant, the average asbestos concentration for personal breathing zone (PBZ) samples during seam sealant removal was 0.006 f/cc (fibers/cubic centimeter of air). Many other air samples contained asbestos at or below the analytical limit of detection (LOD). Pneumatic chiseling of the sealant material during removal resulted in 69% of area air samples containing asbestos. Use of this impact tool liberated more asbestos than hand scraping. Asbestos fibers were only detected in air samples collected during the installation of a replacement clutch. The highest asbestos corrected airborne fiber concentration observed during clutch installation was 0.0028 f/cc. This value is approximately 100 times lower than Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 0.1 f/cc. The airborne asbestos concentrations observed during the servicing of vintage vehicles with asbestos-containing seam sealant and clutches are comparable to levels reported for repair work involving brake components and gaskets.

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