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Lionstrike
21 September 2010, 1331
So I was reading up a bit on basic motorcycle maintenance and I got to a section on brake pads. Then I had the crap scared out of me by what I read:

"Be careful, brake pads contain asbestos and inhaling brake dust can be detrimental to your health." They were talking about CANCER.

Whoa... hang on a sec... cancer from brake pads?

So I did some research... it appears that folks stopped using asbestos in brake pads in the 90's. My bike (bought used off of Craigslist, and chances are it's had it's brake pads changed at least once since 1992) is a 91 or 92 Yamaha Seca II XJ600.

....uh... that's a little borderline. Do my brake pads contain asbestos?

I live in a condo so I work on my brakes in a small shop I built on the main floor. I really don't want asbestos in my house.

There's such a scare from the articles that I've read that I am a little freaked. One person said that even one small fiber of asbestos, anywhere in your system could give you cancer.

WOW. I am an obsessive compulsive (seriously, I am diagnoses)... that doesn't do good things for me.

I wasn't even planning to change the brakes on my bike... it's just a rolling chassis right now and the front brakes are good (rear, nonexistent). But now I half way want this thing out of my house.

Is exposure to my motorcycle brakes very harmful to my health to even be in the house?

Forgive stupid question #4... but these media articles are pretty good at freaking me out. And a lot of us work on these old bikes, so I'd love a rational perspective.

Thanks.

teddillard
21 September 2010, 1354
Dude. Settle down.

A lot of us old folks have been exposed to a lot of nasty stuff and survived. Hell, look at Ed. He used to gargle with asbestos and sprinkle lead on his cereal in the morning when he couldn't find the mercury. Nothing wrong with him that I can see... that I can see... that I can see... >>>ERK<<<

Oh, sorry, what was I saying?

Lionstrike
21 September 2010, 1407
Yeah, I know... my OCD is in overdrive and all that. But damn, the media is VERY GOOD at making you think that you're going to die tomorrow from some horrible flesh eating, mind warping, soul destroying badness, and that it's all around you.... EVEN NOW.
1) I am not sure that the 1992 Yamaha Seca had asbestos in the brake pads from jump. It simply may never have had them.

2) This bike has clearly been used for racing. The front brakes are o.k., but there are no rear brakes. I mean NONE. No shoes, calipers... nothing. It doesn't exist. It's fairly easy to assert that since 1992... the brake pads have been changed at least once in 18 years... especially if it's primary use was drag racing.

3) Like you've mentioned, there's a whole lot more crap than that EVERYWHERE. Half of the stuff I pour into my ICE motorcycle is said to cause cancer. The oil, fuel stabilizer, brake fluid.... according to those folks, all that stuff can kill ya.

4) If brake dust really causes cancer from asbestos... then every time an old car brakes it's being released. I'd have more of a chance of exposure walking around campus.

So.... I get it... overreacting X 100,000 right?

billmi
21 September 2010, 1412
Considering that asbestos was widely used in everything from bake pads to buildings and even protective clothing for generations before it was noticed that it increased the cancer risk for asbestos moners who were exposed to high levels of asbestos dust every day over their careers, I would not be worried about the impact of a set of brake pads sitting idle in your home. Just sitting there, they are no threat, unless you are grinding them into dust and inhaling them. You've probably been exposed to more asbestos dust just walking along a busy street.
I'd want to rebild the brakes to be sure they were in good shape though, as I think brake failure would be a more serious health risk.

teddillard
21 September 2010, 1412
Yeah, seriously, asbestos is clearly not good for you, but the fact is we all lived in houses and went to school in buildings covered in lead paint and packed with asbestos insulation- plus, I can't figure any bike that's what, 20 years old? is going to be running the original pads. Honestly, when I think of what I've knowingly ingested, (and done...) it amazes me I'm as healthy and good-lookin' as I am. :D As the saying goes, life'll kill you...

(good point on the brakes, too Bill...)

Lionstrike
21 September 2010, 1417
Good points guys, thanks.

Every now and again the OCD gets out of control and I start climbing the walls.

I think on the first forum I had a post where some folks thought that the electromagnetic field generated from an EV motor could cause cancer.

Somebody tell me how an electric motor produces ionizing radiation and maybe I'll consider freaking out.

electriKAT
21 September 2010, 1444
If/when you change the pads, don't BLOW on them or used compressed air. That is tempting b/c you can clean all the nasty dust off easily, but you stir it up. And once it's airborn, you will inhale it. Just handling the pads shouldn't be an issue.

Lionstrike
21 September 2010, 1449
Thanks man. The repair manual I read made it sound like if you touched it, you'd die a slow death over the course of 1000 years.

Hell, they made it sound like the damn Sarlacc monster from Star Wars.

ZoomSmith
21 September 2010, 1453
Not all brake pads contain Asbestos. Many pad compounds utilize Kevlar or Carbon for the grippy stuff. I prefer the Kevlar, they aren't as grabby as other compounds but it gives a controlled progressive action.

Lionstrike
21 September 2010, 1500
Yeah, and there's no way that my Seca is rockin' the original brake pads anyway. The thing's been through a war. They've definitely changed the brake pads at least once... and they're probably Kevlar or something like that.

EVcycle
21 September 2010, 1545
Hell, look at Ed. He used to gargle with asbestos and sprinkle lead on his cereal in the morning when he couldn't find the mercury. Nothing wrong with him that I can see... that I can see... that I can see... >>>ERK<<<

Used to?

Still do!!!! And poop out nails!! (sorry, bad visual) :)

ZoomSmith
21 September 2010, 1628
TMI. T-M-I. (cue music: The Crying Game)

EVcycle
21 September 2010, 1629
TMI. TMI. (cue music: The Crying Game)

Ouch...BAD reference!!!!

BaldBruce
21 September 2010, 2104
Dude. Settle down.

A lot of us old folks have been exposed to a lot of nasty stuff and survived. Hell, look at Ed. He used to gargle with asbestos and sprinkle lead on his cereal in the morning when he couldn't find the mercury. Nothing wrong with him that I can see... that I can see... that I can see... >>>ERK<<<

Oh, sorry, what was I saying?

Ted, I know you are trying to help by giving others some of your meds, but please keep using them yourself.......:eek:

teddillard
22 September 2010, 0317
Yeah, and there's no way that my Seca is rockin' the original brake pads anyway. The thing's been through a war. They've definitely changed the brake pads at least once... and they're probably Kevlar or something like that.

That was one of the issues, actually- finding something that worked well. Asbestos works really well for pads. As does lead in paint. It was a long time before you could get decent pads and good paint after they first started banning that stuff. (Pretty sure kevlar is too slippery.)

-Old Man Ted

ZoomSmith
22 September 2010, 0529
Kevlar is indeed used in brake pads. It give a softer feel, but I prefer it to the sintered compounds for street use.
EBC has a some good info on brake pads:
http://www.ebcbrakes.com/motorcycle_brake/organic_brake_pads/index.shtml
http://www.ebcbrakes.com/motorcycle_brake/sintered_brake_pads/index.shtml

teddillard
22 September 2010, 0648
Oh now SEE? I give it 5 years before they tell us Kevlar makes you have square babies and we have to use birchbark for brakes.

Seriously, reading the MSDS sheet on Kevlar (http://hazard.com/msds/mf/dupont/kevlar.html) reminded me I had a friend who was a Doc., and he went off on saccharine one day- it seems it's not a carcinogen outright, but it's immediately metabolized into one. Eating saccharine will give you cancer, but they didn't have to say it basically from a technicality.

electrician
22 September 2010, 0711
Asbestos and lead dangers are well overblown by the media and EPA. They both have their own agendas.
Asbestos is not dangerous unless breathed in. Lead is not dangerous unless eaten. Both are hard to do under normal circumstances.
It is just an example of the Nanny state that we all sadly live in.

Richard230
22 September 2010, 0753
What I have read is that just about all modern OEM brake pads use a sintered pad material made up of fused metals like lead and copper and various binders and lubricants. I don't think any OEM motorcycle brake pads use organic materials or Kelvar, as they do not work as well in wet weather. Personally I prefer DP sintered brake pads as offering the best combination of price, performance and life (for street riding) of all of the brake pads that I have tried. DP (Dunlop) pioneered the use of sintered brake pads for disc brake systems.

However, sintered-metal brake pads can be a little hard on brake disc material and the disc must be designed for use with these pads. If you have an older 1970's or 1980's motorcycle you should stick with organic pads or your brake disc might wear more quickly than normal.