In 1939, General Motors in Detroit, Michigan commenced producing brakes that contained asbestos and continued to manufacture the merchandise into the 1980’s. Specifically, asbestos was used as a friction product in the linings of clutches and brakes, and also in such products as gaskets, adhesives and electrical components, disc brakes and brake shoes.
GM was a member of the Brake Lining Manufacturer’s Association. The U.S. government charged this organization with price fixing in 1948 and levied $1000.00 in reparations against the company. The results of air quality tests performed in 1939, showed a dozen masses of airborne asbestos throughout the GM plant. The largest concentration of asbestos dust was in the area where the clutches were produced and sanded. Another area of primary infection was in the area where the dry ingredients were mixed for lining brake slabs.
Although all workers are endangered by airborne asbestos, those employees most at-risk are those who worked with or near the machinery that was used for brake and clutch products, as they were likely exposed to asbestos dust on a regular basis. Automobile mechanics risk much exposure to airborne asbestos while servicing car parts that contain asbestos. Millions of particles of asbestos dust are released into the air during the replacing and repairing of clutches and brakes. Mechanics at the auto showrooms who regularly repair and replaced brakes, clutches and electrical components on vehicles are also at a high-risk for asbestos-related illnesses, such as mesothelioma.
General Motors is ninth from the top of publicly traded companies on the globe. It is the biggest manufacturer of vehicles on the globe and has led in the sale of cars for over half a century. GM is now an international corporation, but its headquarters remains in the United States. The corporation supplies jobs for approximately a quarter of a million people and produces automobiles in 34 different nations. However, the company confronted problems in 2007 which led to a loss of a $38 billion dollars.