Bridgestone Cycle Co. said Wednesday it has discovered about 19,500 children’s bicycles sold between October 2004 and last month have asbestos in their brakes and is offering to change the components for free.

The company said it believes any adverse health effects and the chance that the toxic fibers could become airborne are minimal because the brake lining that contains the asbestos has been hardened and is in a casing that rarely wears down, even with long-term use.

Still, Bridgestone said that beginning Friday, people can bring the bicycles in to have the brakes replaced.

The bicycles were imported from China, where they were built, and an analysis is being done to determine how much asbestos is in the lining, said the Saitama Prefecture-based company, an offshoot of major tire maker Bridgestone Corp.

Under a government ordinance revised last October for the enforcement of the Industrial Safety and Health Law, brake linings cannot be imported if they contain asbestos of more than 1 percent of their total weight.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Wednesday there may be similar problems with other bicycles imported from China.

The industry ministry, along with the health ministry, has ordered manufacturers’ associations and retailers to investigate.

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