Asbestos is a group of minerals that generally look like separable, long, thin fibers. These fibers are small and can be seen with a microscope. When these fibers are disturbed, causing the fibers to float in the air, they can be easily breathed into the lungs.
Scientists have recognized asbestos as a health threat to humans because these fibers can be breathed into the lungs and can cause cancer and other lung diseases. We are all exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air. People are more likely to experience asbestos-related disorders when they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos, are exposed for longer periods of time, and are exposed more often. The time lag between significant inhalation of asbestos and any adverse health manifestations can be as long as 30 or more years.