Is brake dust dangerous to breathe?

Updated February 21, 2017

Any particulate that gets into your lungs can cause irritation and illness, but some are more dangerous than others. Brake dust can be particularly harmful and should be handled with caution.

Contents of Brake Dust

One common ingredient in brake pads is asbestos, which is harmful if inhaled. Newer ingredients are still being tested for possible health effects.

Effects on the Lungs

Breathing brake dust can cause a range of health problems, some of which do not manifest until years after you have been exposed. These include shortness of breath, lung disease and cancer.


To reduce your risk of inhaling brake dust, take some basic precautions when removing a 'wheels or working on brakes. Use a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum to remove visible dust from surfaces. Wear a face mask if possible; and wash your hands thoroughly before eating, drinking or smoking.

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About the Author

From 2006 through 2009, Rebecca Jernigan wrote and edited articles for Laurin Publishing, where she was published in "Photonics Spectra," "BioPhotonics" and "Europhotonics" magazines. She has experience in fields ranging from ophthalmology to photonics, and holds a master's degree in publishing as well as degrees in psychology, English and Spanish.