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The aim of this paper is to respond to some frequently asked questions about asbestos and to provide information to help people make informed decisions about its care and maintenance Asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring minerals that separate into strong very fine fibers The fibers are heat-resistant and extremely durable and because of these qualities asbestos has become very useful in construction and industry In the home it may or may not pose a health hazard to the occupants depending on its condition When it can be crushed by hand pressure or the surface is not sealed to prevent small pieces from escaping the material is considered FRIABLE In this condition fibers can be released and pose a health risk However as long as the surface is stable and well-sealed against the release of its fibers and not damaged the material is considered safe until damaged in some way Asbestos tends to break down into a dust of microscopic size fibers Because of their size and shape these tiny fibers remain suspended in the air for long periods of time and can easily penetrate body tissues after being inhaled or ingested Because of their durability these fibers can remain in the body for many years and thereby become the cause of asbestos related diseasesSymptoms of these diseases generally do not appear for 10 to 30 years after the exposure Therefore long before its effects are detectable asbestos related injury to the body may have already occurred There is no safe level of exposure known therefore exposure to friable asbestos should be avoidedDescriptions given in this booklet may help in identifying asbestos-containing materials People who frequently work with this material such as plumbers contractors and heating specialists can often correctly guess whether a material contains asbestos However the only way to be sure is to have a sample of the suspect material analyzed by a laboratory Do not rely on visual
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