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Is disk brake pad toxicity an issue

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Is disk brake pad toxicity an issue

Old 06-05-18, 01:20 AM
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Simonsky
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Is disk brake pad toxicity an issue

After years of not cycling I'm now thinking of getting a Hybrid to regain some fitness as I com out of post-mid-life-crisis.

I have noticed that, since I last cycled about 20 years ago (!) many bikes have hydraulic disk brakes. Being a bit OCDish I was wondering whether brake pads give of toxic dust or might still contain asbestos (especially if imported from China).

I suspect it's a non issue as brake pads on bikes are small but I thought I'd ask the question.

Many thanks,

Simon
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Old 06-05-18, 06:10 AM
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Welcome, Simon.

There are three types of brake pads commonly in use today. Fully metallic (often called sintered metallic), semi-metallic, and organic (often called resin). I very seriously doubt that asbestos has been used in bicycle brake pads. If in doubt, you could contact some brake pads manufacturers and pose the question. Shimano, SRAM/Avid, Tektro, and Kool-Stop are four leading brake and brake pad manufacturers.
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Old 06-05-18, 06:52 AM
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I'd be HUGELY surprised if any of the big brands used asbestos-based compounds.
A noname vendor MIGHT use just about ANYTHING in a copied product. But with the limited remaining use there is of asbestos, I wonder how many would have it on site anyhow. Seems like a low risk to me.
By definition, brake dust probably isn't exactly healthy to inhale anyway - dust rarely is.
I reckon what ultimately makes it "safe" is the amounts the average rider can realistically be exposed to.
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Old 06-05-18, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
I'd be HUGELY surprised if any of the big brands used asbestos-based compounds.
A noname vendor MIGHT use just about ANYTHING in a copied product. But with the limited remaining use there is of asbestos, I wonder how many would have it on site anyhow. Seems like a low risk to me.
By definition, brake dust probably isn't exactly healthy to inhale anyway - dust rarely is.
I reckon what ultimately makes it "safe" is the amounts the average rider can realistically be exposed to.

Thanks for response. I agree that the risk is small. There have been some cases of car brake pads finding there way into the market from Chin that contain asbestos. In the case of brake pads, I imagine those are mostly made in China, so who knows for sure-probably depends on the level of controls in each country. I imagine that, in general, exposure to dust from bike brake pads must be very small given their size and positioning. I've read that the 'organic' pads are the least polluting-any views on this?
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Old 06-05-18, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Simonsky View Post
Thanks for response. I agree that the risk is small. There have been some cases of car brake pads finding there way into the market from Chin that contain asbestos. In the case of brake pads, I imagine those are mostly made in China, so who knows for sure-probably depends on the level of controls in each country. I imagine that, in general, exposure to dust from bike brake pads must be very small given their size and positioning. I've read that the 'organic' pads are the least polluting-any views on this?
No, not really.
Given that the bulk of my mileage is suburb-to-city commuting, the bicycle brake pads would have to be fairly potent to show up against the background of other pollutants I get exposed to during an average ride.
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Old 06-05-18, 09:22 AM
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Even if the pads were pure asbestos, it won't hurt you.

The amount of brake dust those pads emit is minuscule. And it's in open air in a breeze (since by definition you're only using the pads when you're moving, so there's always a breeze going by the pads to disperse any dust)

Asbestos is a problem with prolonged exposure. Minuscule trace amounts present in an open air environment with a breeze aren't going to be deadly.

Besides, the most dangerous kind of asbestos is amosite asbestos. That's been banned outright for a while. The asbestos that's still used in things today is chrysotile asbestos and is much less tenacious as far as sticking to the linings of the lungs. Low level exposure to this kind of asbestos is not considered to be a health hazzard.

And on top of all that, brake pads are not made of asbestos anyway.

Get a disc brake bike and feel safe on it. They are awesome, especially in the rain!
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Old 06-05-18, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
Even if the pads were pure asbestos, it won't hurt you.

The amount of brake dust those pads emit is minuscule. And it's in open air in a breeze (since by definition you're only using the pads when you're moving, so there's always a breeze going by the pads to disperse any dust)

Asbestos is a problem with prolonged exposure. Minuscule trace amounts present in an open air environment with a breeze aren't going to be deadly.

Besides, the most dangerous kind of asbestos is amosite asbestos. That's been banned outright for a while. The asbestos that's still used in things today is chrysotile asbestos and is much less tenacious as far as sticking to the linings of the lungs. Low level exposure to this kind of asbestos is not considered to be a health hazzard.

And on top of all that, brake pads are not made of asbestos anyway.

Get a disc brake bike and feel safe on it. They are awesome, especially in the rain!
All good points and I'm sure you are right in what you say. The only other argument against disc brake pads would be that one is marginally contributing to pollution as against particles from caliper brake pads which don't have metallic components ( perhaps some do?). On the other hand the disc brakes are safer in wet ( I'm in the U.K!!) which is a major issue ( when I used to cycle years ago I nearly had major accidents due to radical changes in stopping distance when brakes were wet).

In any case I drive a car! So the amount of dust from those pads will be thousands of times or more that of a bike. I'll probably go for the disc brakes!.

Thanks for discussion- very helpful.
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Old 06-05-18, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Simonsky View Post
All good points and I'm sure you are right in what you say. The only other argument against disc brake pads would be that one is marginally contributing to pollution as against particles from caliper brake pads which don't have metallic components ( perhaps some do?). On the other hand the disc brakes are safer in wet ( I'm in the U.K!!) which is a major issue ( when I used to cycle years ago I nearly had major accidents due to radical changes in stopping distance when brakes were wet).

In any case I drive a car! So the amount of dust from those pads will be thousands of times or more that of a bike. I'll probably go for the disc brakes!.

Thanks for discussion- very helpful.
Brake dust from a bike brake pad contributing to pollution?

You're kidding, right?

The dust from a bike brake pad is so immeasurably small that it will just become part of the dirt and will be fully degradable due to the sheer smallness of the particles. Organic dust is already basically just dirt. Metalic dust will decompose on a chemical level as rust nearly instantly upon exposure to any moisture. In both circumstances the dust turns into dirt.
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Old 06-05-18, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Simonsky View Post
The only other argument against disc brake pads would be that one is marginally contributing to pollution as against particles from caliper brake pads which don't have metallic components ( perhaps some do?).
This will be a nearly infinitesimally small amount of dust. Besides, organic/resin pads for bikes exist, and are even common in consumer applications, so the amount of metallic material in an already extremely small brake pad is zero or so close to it that it would be difficult to measure.

The advances they offer to rider safety, especially where it's often wet, is likely much more relevant to daily life, at least in my opinion.
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Old 06-05-18, 03:39 PM
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Everything is bad, and labeled as such , for Californians.
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Old 06-13-18, 11:48 PM
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Rim brakes will still generate dust. The rubber friction material will make rubber dust; aluminum bits will wear off the brake track on the wheel; and pink colored rim brake pads contain iron oxide.
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Old 06-28-18, 11:42 AM
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I got the discs on my Specialized hybrid.
Definitely recommend them.
But, fair warning, do NOT touch them after braking for any time.
They are hot enough to really burn you.
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Old 07-03-18, 08:12 AM
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I think the benefits of reliable braking in all weather conditions by far outweighs the the infinitesimally small health risk from bicycle brake dust. Don't get hung up on the minutia.
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Old 07-03-18, 09:59 AM
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Australia used to have a whole town dependant on an Asbestos mine,

nobody remains there. but in the gravesites..
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Old 06-17-20, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
Even if the pads were pure asbestos, it won't hurt you.

The amount of brake dust those pads emit is minuscule. And it's in open air in a breeze (since by definition you're only using the pads when you're moving, so there's always a breeze going by the pads to disperse any dust)

Asbestos is a problem with prolonged exposure. Minuscule trace amounts present in an open air environment with a breeze aren't going to be deadly.

Besides, the most dangerous kind of asbestos is amosite asbestos. That's been banned outright for a while. The asbestos that's still used in things today is chrysotile asbestos and is much less tenacious as far as sticking to the linings of the lungs. Low level exposure to this kind of asbestos is not considered to be a health hazzard.

And on top of all that, brake pads are not made of asbestos anyway.

Get a disc brake bike and feel safe on it. They are awesome, especially in the rain!
I wonder myself just how many China made bike disc brake knockoffs there are with asbestos, with so much use of it even still with all their own active mining, they still crank out asbestsos auto pads and shoes for the big store chains, so why would you expect them to exclude bicycle and motor bike disc brakes? If I really wanted disc brakes, I would insist on a reputable brake like what's produced by shimano , avid , Tektro etc, but absolutely no Chinese made brakes. Alot of quality range bikes have Tektro as stock OEM equipment.
EXPOSURE since many of us periodically run into this toxic mineral. we need to take it seriously as just the other night,(6-13-20) arsonists must have set that fire in a late, famous 1800s Shelton CT (Star Pin Company) factory building that spewed smoke with asbestos all over that part of town, embedding in whoever took it in, so there is never a "one time exposure" especially in the early settled Northeast USA, The wealthy class towns do not see things like this happen as much, with no old run down factory buildings...My point being is that it seems to pop up everywhere
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Old 06-18-20, 12:17 PM
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I'm just guessing but unless you're snorting it (thru a straw) every time after hitting the brakes..... I think you'll be ok.
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