Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to Asbestos

Define asbestos.

Asbestos is the name given to a group of six serpentine and amphibole fibrous minerals that occur naturally in the environment. Asbestos fibers are too small to be seen by the naked eye. They do not dissolve in water or evaporate. Asbestos is known for heat resistance, and degradation. Industrially, Asbestos is also used in many commercial products, including insulation, in construction and in automobiles.

What are the health risks if I have asbestos in my surroundings?                                                            

Asbestos that is covered and untouched, this is, left alone isn’t hazardous to health. Asbestos proves to be fatal when it reacts with the atmosphere and is inhaled by the life in that surroundings. To prevent this, asbestos must be properly disposed with.

What are the types of Asbestos?

The two general types of asbestos are serpentine and amphibole. Chrysotile asbestos has long and flexible fibers. Amphibole fibers are brittle, have a ductile shape. Exposure to both types of asbestos increases the likelihood of developing asbestos-related diseases, however amphibole fibers tend to be more dangerous.

Types of asbestose

Types of Asbestose

What are the symptoms of asbestos-related disease?

In most cases, the symptoms aren’t observed in an asbestos affected person for ten to twenty years. The symptoms are mostly similar to those of minor health diseases and only by consulting a doctor could the possibility of asbestosis and other diseases could be confirmed.

Do people really die of Asbestos?

Asbestos-related disease can be fatal, however not every affected person has a danger to his/her life. The health problems may be controlled, and some may cause the victim to die.

Asbestos is responsible for over 5000 deaths every year. Teenagers and young adults if periodically exposed to asbestos fibers for a time are at greater risk of developing asbestos-related disease than older ones. The reason for this is latency.

How does Asbestos Look Like?

Unless a mark is present on the product, it is almost impossible to identify asbestos, and in many cases even an expert can not tell without finding the mark or having a sample analysed. In most cases, asbestos may look like attic insulation.

What is asbestos exposure?

Asbestos exposure results from inhalation of asbestos fibers. These fibers can be breathed into your lungs and could remain there for a lifetime and may cause asbestos-related diseases.

Who can be affected by asbestos?

Generally people working near

  • An asbestos mine or factory.
  •  A building containing asbestos products
  • Insulation, floor tiles where asbestos is used

are exposed to asbestos.

Most of the cases from asbestos exposure around 4000 deaths per year are associated with heavy asbestos exposures from past industrial experience and installation of asbestos products.

What are some types of asbestos-related diseases?

Asbestos-related diseases can be:

■ Asbestosis – scarring of the lungs.

■ Pleural changes or pleural plaques,  thickening and hardening of the pleura.

Asbestos also causes cancer.

■ Lung cancer.

■ Mesothelioma, a rare cancer mostly associated with asbestos exposure.


What is asbestos abatement? How do I get rid of asbestos waste? 

Asbestos waste includes contaminated building materials, dust, rubble, used tools, disposable personal protective equipment. Asbestos waste must be placed in suitable packaging to prevent any fibres being airborne. This should be double wrapped and handled with care.

Asbestos waste should only be handled by a licensed disposal site.