Asbestos is the name of a group of highly fibrous minerals with separable, long, and thin fibers. Separated asbestos fibers are strong enough and flexible enough to be spun and woven. Asbestos fibers are heat resistant, making them useful for many industrial purposes.
Asbestos has been used commonly in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. Because asbestos fibers are resistant to heat and most chemicals, they have been mined for use in over 3,000 different products, including roofing materials, brake pads, and cement pipe often used in distributing water to communities. Today, asbestos is most commonly found in older homes, in pipe and furnace insulation materials, asbestos shingles, millboard, textured paints and other coating materials, and floor tiles.
Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur after asbestos-containing materials are disturbed by cutting, sanding or other remodeling activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air in homes, increasing asbestos levels and endangering people living in those homes.
There are six types of asbestos:
Chrysotile, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Crocidolite, Tremolite,
Actinolite. Asbestos can be positively identified only by a
trained analyst using a specialized microscope (shown below).