Asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant that has been used in building materials, paper products, plastics and other products and is still used in over 3,000 products today, generally in the construction industry. Asbestos exposure mainly occurs in indoor air where it may be released from these materials.
Effects on the lungs are a major health concern from asbestos, as chronic (long-term) exposure to asbestos in humans via inhalation can result in a lung disease termed asbestosis. Cancer is also a major concern from asbestos exposure. Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma (a rare cancer of the thin membranes lining the abdominal cavity and surrounding internal organs), and possibly gastrointestinal cancers.
If you suspect a building material contains asbestos, before you disturb, renovate, demolish, or burn the material, have a licensed asbestos inspector sample it for analysis. This is state and federal law.