Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It is made up of fibers that are so small that you cannot see them. If asbestos fibers are in the air you breathe, you will get asbestos fibers in your lungs. This is the main way that people are exposed to asbestos. Asbestos fibers may remain in the lungs for a lifetime. In some cases, the fibers might damage the lungs or the pleura covering the lungs, leading to illness and even death.
Some people who worked with asbestos years ago are now getting sick. They may have brought asbestos fibers home on their clothes, shoes, and bodies. People who lived in those same households could have been exposed to asbestos, too. Some household members may now be sick because of this exposure.
Asbestos fibers may also be released into the air when asbestos-containing material is disturbed during product use, demolition work, and building or home maintenance, repair, or remodeling.
This page last updated on October 29, 2008