Asbestos is a group of minerals that occur naturally in the atmosphere as a collection of fibers that can be separated into thin, resilient threads. These fibers do not conduct electricity and are resistant to heat and fire. For these reasons, asbestos has been used far and wide in many industries.
Most products generated today do not contain asbestos. If a product has been recently made with the fiber, it is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the product is labeled. However, any products made prior to the late 1980’s, did not require a label. Asbestos was used in many common household building products. The building and construction industries used it for strengthening cement and plastics as well as for insulation, roofing, fireproofing and sound absorption. The shipbuilding industry used asbestos to insulate boilers, steam pipes, and hot water pipes. The automotive industry uses asbestos in vehicle brake shoes and clutch pads. Asbestos has also been used in ceiling and floor tiles, paints, coatings and adhesives, and plastics. In addition, asbestos has been found in vermiculite containing garden products and some talc contained in crayons.
Everyone is exposed to asbestos at some point in their life. Low levels of asbestos are present in the air, water, and soil. People may also be exposed to asbestos in their workplace, their communities, or their homes. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in