Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral fiber that is resistant to water, heat, fire, electricity, chemicals and bacteria. Asbestos was a component in many products before being banned in the latter part of the 20th century. Uses included: vinyl flooring, linoleum, flooring mastics, fireproofing and acoustic materials, ceiling tiles/panels, spray-on ceiling materials, plaster, caulk, interior thermal systems, pipe & attic insulation, HVAC duct work, and roofing felt & shingles. It was also used in chalkboards, brake pads, vermiculite, talc and many other products.
Because of the microscopic nature of asbestos fibers, they can easily be inhaled into the body, where they accumulate and eventually lead to diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Tradesmen can unknowingly expose their families to asbestos dangers as they may carry this material home on their clothes, hair and tools. There is a significant risk for workplace exposure in numerous professions including: boiler repairmen, pipefitters, construction workers, carpenters, HVAC & insulation contractors, plumbers, electricians, firefighters, custodians and factory workers.
Due to its highly toxic nature, any testing, encapsulation, removal and disposal of asbestos should be performed by a qualified and licensed contractor.