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Automakers continue to use asbestos in vehicles

Dec 27, 2005 | Bloomberg

Toyot Motor Corp, Suzuki Motor Corp and seven other Japanese vehicle makers used asbestos in about 1.64 million vehicles since 1996 after pledging in 1989 they would stop using the material.

The companies used asbestos in gaskets, packing materials and plastic materials for components such as air compressors and water pipes, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said yesterday. JAMA said there was no risk to people from the material and there are no plans to recall the vehicles.

Japanese shipyards, builders, power producers and railway operators are stepping up efforts to remove all asbestos from their facilities and production processes as the material has contributed to the death of 374 people, according to a July 15 report by the government.

Suzuki, Japan's biggest minicar maker, used asbestos in 1.01 million vehicles including the Alto and Every models built between 1996 and 2001, JAMA said. Asbestos was found in 177,000 vehicles made by Nissan and 159,000 units built by Hino Motors Ltd. Toyota built 27,000 units which contained asbestos in auto components, according to the group.

Other companies include Mitsubishi Motors Corp, Nissan Diesel Motor Co, Isuzu Motors Ltd, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp and Yamaha Motor Co.

JAMA in October asked its 14 members to investigate the use of asbestos after Nissan Motor Co in October said it found asbestos in components within air filters and oil coolers. The companies only investigated domestically purchased vehicle parts.

The use of asbestos will not be completely banned in Japan until 2008. The government banned the production and use of some vehicle components that contain asbestos, including brake pads, brake linings, clutch facings and clutch linings beginning in October 2004.

The parts which contain asbestos that were found in the nine manufacturers' vehicles aren't on the list of banned items, JAMA said.

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