Asbestos is a group of silicate minerals that was frequently used in construction and automotive applications as an insulator because of its resistance to heat and fire. Asbestos materials were found to cause serious health problems for those who worked with it or suffered from prolonged exposure. These afflictions included lung cancer and a number of other respiratory problems. Dealing with asbestos can be very hazardous, and there are signs to look for if you are unsure if asbestos is in the area.
Only buildings built prior to 1975 legally have asbestos in them. To start your inspection for asbestos, examine the pipes. Asbestos was used as a pipe covering in older buildings and will appear as a white or grey coating on the pipes. Boilers and flat surfaces can sometimes have asbestos blocks around them for insulation and likewise will have a white or grey rectangular-shaped material covering them. Roofing shingles may have asbestos in them as well if the roof was fireproofed. Asbestos-containing shingles will have a fibrous appearance. The main purpose of asbestos is as a heat insulator, so any area of the building that has hot machinery is likely to have asbestos in it. Unless it is labelled, there is no way to be positive that the suspicious substance is asbestos without testing it. Always treat the substance as toxic just to be safe, and take a sample only when no one else is in the vicinity. To have asbestos removed, you will need to have it professionally done in order to stay in accordance with federal laws.