What is Asbestos?

Anthophyllite asbestos, Georgia, U.S. ; Scanning electron microscope.  From USGS

Anthophyllite asbestos, Georgia, U.S. ; Scanning electron microscope. From USGS

It is a naturally occurring mineral which has a structure of long fibers. It is a superb insulator, fireproof and has the tensile strength of steel of the same diameter. Long before the adverse health effects were known, these traits made asbestos a desirable material additive.

 

Asbestos Containing Building Materials or Materials which contain asbestos.

Asbestos was widely used in the composition of building materials from the late 1800’s up to the mid 1970’s. It was used in such common materials as Plaster, Floor Tile, Linoleum, Caulks, Pipe Insulation, Wrapping on Duct Work, Electrical Wiring, Vermiculite, Glues and Cement Board Siding.  Although its use has greatly diminished, asbestos is still used is some products to this day.

During renovation and demolition projects in buildings it is quite possible to disturb the asbestos within these materials and inadvertently release the asbestos fibers into the air within the building for the occupants to breathe.

Once breathed in, asbestos can cause irreversible tissue scarring and cancers.