U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Asbestos Fact Sheet
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals used in certain products, such as building materials and vehicle brakes, to resist heat and corrosion. Asbestos includes chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite asbestos, anthophyllite asbestos, actinolite asbestos, and any of these materials that have been chemically treated and/or altered.
What are the dangers of asbestos exposure to workers?
The inhalation of asbestos fibers by workers can cause serious diseases of the lungs and other organs that may not appear until years after the exposure has occurred. For instance, asbestosis can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs and result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. Asbestos fibers associated with these health risks are too small to be seen with the naked eye, and smokers are at higher risk of developing some asbestos-related diseases.
Are you being exposed to asbestos?
General industry employees may be exposed to asbestos during the manufacture of asbestos-containing products or when performing brake and clutch repairs. In the construction industry, exposure occurs when workers disturb asbestos-containing materials during the renovation or demolition of buildings. Employees in the maritime environment also may be exposed when renovating or demolishing ships constructed with asbestos-containing materials. In addition, custodial workers may be exposed through contact with deteriorating asbestos-containing materials in buildings.