Building muscle cars is a rewarding hobby, but many muscle car enthusiasts don’t appreciate the health risks
associated with many of the materials found in automotive parts. Builders should be aware of the toxic materials
that they may encounter while working on these vehicles, and how they can protect themselves from them.
One of the most potentially dangerous materials found in old cars is asbestos. Asbestos is most commonly found
in old cars’ clutches and brakes. When these old clutches create dust from wearing down, the asbestos dust sits
in the brake housing or in the clutch compartment. When you open these compartments, you are susceptible
to breathing in this asbestos dust. Asbestos is dangerous when the substance is breathed in, and it is known to
cause mesothelioma. It is very important to wear a high quality dust filter mask to prevent exposure when you
are working around asbestos.
Another common toxic material found in cars is phenol. Phenol is found in the grease used in engines,
transmissions and other car parts. Wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself against the potentially fatal
exposure. When skin is exposed to phenol, the skin can be burned, and breathing phenol vapors can cause
burns along the inside of the nose, lungs and throat. When the brain is exposed to phenol is causes seizures and
Lead is another toxic material that is common in classic cars. The electrical connection areas of muscle cars often
contain lead, as well as cracks and dents filled with lead. Lead chromate was also popularly used in white, yellow,
red and orange paint. Exposure to lead can damage the body’s organs and tissues, including the nervous system,
heart, intestines and bones. Cadmium is another common toxic substance found in the paint used on old cars.
Cadmium is potentially fatal when inhaled. Exposure to these substances typically occurs when a muscle car
enthusiast sands the body of the vehicle and inhales lead particles. Protect yourself against exposure by wearing
a high quality dust mask.
Bromine is another toxic material that car enthusiasts should be mindful of when they are working on old cars.
Bromine can be found in seat belts, car seats and even some dashboard parts. Breathing in bromine can cause
reproductive issues, memory loss and other harmful conditions. Wear a high quality dust mask to prevent
potentially dangerous exposure to bromine.
Now that you know about these risks, you are better prepared to protect yourself. You do not need to stop
working on muscle cars, but you should be careful when working around these potentially hazardous materials.
Always wear gloves to protect your skin, and wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling any of these materials.