Asbestos is a mineral fiber which has been shown to cause lung and stomach cancer when inhaled. It is only a problem when the fibers are released into the air. Asbestos can be found in steam pipe coverings, some appliances (especially wood stoves), some ceiling, wall and floor coverings, and some roofing and siding materials.
To identify asbestos, look for identifying labels or contact a plumber, or a heating building contractor who may be able to make a visual identification. In certain cases, you may want to have a sample of the material in question analyzed by a laboratory.
The general guideline for asbestos is not to remove it, unless it is crumbling into airborne dust. Improper removal can create more harmful exposure by releasing large quantities of asbestos dust. If asbestos in a home or commercial building is crumbling, contact a qualified asbestos contractor to deal with the situation.
In any situation, when working with or near asbestos, wear a mask over your nose and mouth. When it comes to clean-up, removal or sealing asbestos leave it to the professionals.
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