What is asbestos?

chrysotile asbestos in serpentine rock

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made up of flexible heat-resistant fibers. There are six types of asbestos all composed of long, thin fibrous crystals that are composed of microscopic fibrils. Those fibrils can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion or disturbance and if inhaled, can lead to severe lung damage, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other lung cancers.