Although asbestos is dangerous when any kind of contact is made, asbestos is particularly dangerous when it is breathed in. That is also the most common way asbestos wreaks havoc on the body, through a person breathing it in. When someone breathes in asbestos, the fibers can get trapped in the nose, throat, and lungs. Although the fibers in the nose and throat can be coughed or sneezed out, the fibers that make their way deep into the lungs will stay there. However, some fibers in the throat may also be swallowed and make their way into the digestive tract. When this happens, the asbestos fibers can damage the digestive tract as well.
Asbestos is more or less dangerous depending on how friable it is. Asbestos that is very friable is highly dangerous, with asbestos that are not very friable being less dangerous. When in reference to asbestos, the term friable means that the asbestos fibers are easily released into the air. Asbestos that is easily disturbed or can be crumbled by hand is considered to be highly friable. Depending on the products the asbestos was used in, the friability will be different. For example, floor tile is not very friable, whereas spray-on insulation with asbestos in it is highly friable.
Asbestos containing products that are not highly friable will not negatively affect your health unless they are tampered with or damaged. These products include ceiling tiles, floor tiles, undamaged laboratory cabinet tops, shingles, fire doors, and siding shingles. If you have materials like these in you home that contain asbestos, there is no need to worry unless the asbestos is disturbed. For example, having an asbestos containing floor tile will not harm your health, but if someone were to break the floor tile or drill into it, your health could be affected by the asbestos released into the air.
This is why it’s always important to have your home inspected for even less friable forms of asbestos before attempting any kinds of renovations or home do it yourself projects.