Short Answer: 

Yes, but it is very difficult and expensive. Asbestos has mostly been banned in the U.S. because it causes asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis and cancers like lung cancer or mesothelioma. But a lot of asbestos is still in buildings and some products, and it should be removed. There are some processes for processing asbestos into less harmful substances. But it is costly, and most asbestos is buried, isolated and/or contained in a substance that prevents it from becoming airborne. 

In most cases, the best thing to do is have it removed by an experienced and licensed asbestos removal company.


If you may have been exposed to asbestos, speak with your healthcare provider about tests and screening to help detect the presence of asbestos fibers and asbestos-related damage.

Asbestos is incredibly useful for its strength and resistance to heat, flame, chemicals and sound. 

But asbestos also causes significant health problems, some of which have no cure.
Asbestos is one of the most durable materials on earth, and it is very difficult to convert or destroy. 

  • Asbestos fibers cause significant health problems, and once inhaled, the fibers do not degrade or dissolve, and some asbestos fibers never leave the body.

The difficulties of asbestos disposal

Asbestos once had a reputation as a “miracle mineral.” Composed of thin, flexible strands, asbestos is easy to reduce into small fibers, which can be woven into an assortment of materials. For centuries, people around the world have used asbestos to fabricate a variety of products, from ceramic pottery to boiler ducts and work gloves. However, asbestos’s greatest strength is, perhaps, its inherent resilience: it is near-impervious to corrosion, resistant to high temperatures as well as electricity and fire.

Despite its long history, we know today that asbestos—for all of its benefits—is anything but safe. Scientists have found asbestos exposure responsible for an alarming array of medical conditions, up to and including cancer. While the United States has banned the manufacture, import, and sale of most commercial asbestos-containing materials since the 1980s, an estimated 30 million homes across the country remain contaminated. 

Although asbestos poses little threat to human health when it is left undisturbed, it can inflict incredible injuries when it is dispersed into the environment. Since asbestos has the potential to destroy lives and devastate communities, regulators, businesses, and private homeowners often seek to eradicate it before it becomes a danger. 

However, asbestos’s resilience makes it difficult to destroy, and a challenge to dispose safely. 

“Generally, those who develop asbestos-related diseases show no signs of illness for a long time after exposure.”

Source: National Cancer Institute (NIH)1

A Brief History of Asbestos 

Asbestos is a term used to describe a category of six naturally occurring minerals composed of thin, flexible fibers which can be repurposed and woven into a variety of materials. 

People have mined and traded asbestos since times immemorial. The story of asbestos is, in a great many ways, as old as the story of mankind. Once called a “miracle mineral,” asbestos was prized for its ability to withstand high temperatures, fire, and flame. 

Asbestos has been used by humans for thousands of years.

Medieval Europeans were so enthralled by asbestos’s seemingly incredible properties that they believed the mineral had supernatural origins. The legends surrounding asbestos were, at one time, so prevalent that the storied merchant Marco Polo sought to dispel rumors that asbestos was shorn from the wool of man-eating salamanders by investigating the techniques Chinese and Mongolian craftsmen used to create napkins and cloth from the mineral.

However, the asbestos industry only began to solidify after the Industrial Revolution. In the United States, the mass migration of people from rural hamlets to large cities drove demand for inexpensive but durable building materials. Asbestos was seen as a convenient solution to the burgeoning housing crisis, with manufacturers using the mineral to fabricate construction materials including: 

  • Cement asbestos boards and under-sheeting 
  • Asbestos on carpet or in carpet underlays 
  • Patching compounds 
  • Boiler ducts 
  • Furnaces 
  • Pipes and pipe insulation
  • Wall and roof insulation 
  • Cement roof shingles 

While the United States began to ban asbestos materials in the early 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency never ordered a full-scale decontamination of American homes. Although nobody knows exactly how many structures remain affected by asbestos, experts estimate that up to 30 million buildings could still contain dangerous concentrations of it.

The Risks of Asbestos Removal

When asbestos is left undisturbed—underground, beneath the floor, or trapped behind walls—it poses little risk to human health. However, homeowners may have to exercise increased caution if they: 

  • Plan to demolish, remodel, or renovate areas of an asbestos-affected home. 
  • Fear that asbestos products may be open and accessible to guests, who could inadvertently encounter asbestos-based materials. 
  • Are considering selling their home, as a buyer could hold the homeowner liable for asbestos-related injuries if the homeowner did not disclose the presence of suspected asbestos-containing materials. 

Since even aged but otherwise stable asbestos products could disintegrate upon contact, experts typically recommend that asbestos removal, or abatement, only be performed by experienced, certified professionals. 

Homeowners who attempt abatement by themselves could be exposed to hazardous concentrations of asbestos. If airborne asbestos is inhaled, it could accumulate inside the lungs, wreaking havoc not only on the respiratory system but the entire body. 

“The overall evidence suggests there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.”

Source: National Cancer Institute (NIH)2

Asbestos-related diseases

Asbestos is broadly associated with an assortment of serious medical conditions, including but not limited to: 

  • Pleural plaques
  • Pleural effusions
  • Asbestosis
  • Mesothelioma 
  • Different cancers, including cancer of the lungs, cancer of the ovaries, and cancer of the esophagus

The Difficulty of Destroying Asbestos 

Since asbestos can withstand high temperatures and is generally resistant to electrical, chemical, and biological degradation, disposing of asbestos can present significant difficulties. Even if a homeowner decides to remove asbestos without professional assistance, they should still exercise caution when attempting to dispose of asbestos-containing materials. 

Asbestos should never be: 

  • Burned; 
  • Buried; or 
  • Discarded. 

National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants

The National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, or NESHAP, consider asbestos a potential pollutant. NESHAP advises that: 

  • Asbestos-containing materials be isolated prior to disposal; 
  • Asbestos-containing materials be wetted and sealed inside a leakproof bag or container; and 
  • Asbestos-containing materials be transported to an authorized asbestos landfill.

Asbestos landfills

Authorized asbestos landfills are required to take extraordinary measures to ensure that asbestos does not affect nearby communities or contaminate underground sources of drinking water. For example: 

  • Asbestos landfills are required to control emissions by covering asbestos-containing materials with at least 15 centimeters of compacted waste once every 24 hours; alternatively,
  • Asbestos landfills that do not cover asbestos-containing materials with other compacted materials must regularly apply a chemical suppression agent to the suspected asbestos waste. 

However, asbestos can also be recycled by:

  • Heating asbestos products in a sodium hydroxide solution. The temperature of this heated solution typically exceeds 1,250 degrees Celsius. With enough time, these high temperatures can transform toxic asbestos-containing materials into nonhazardous glasses, which can later be used to fabricate industrial ceramics and road infrastructure aggregates. 
  • Heating asbestos products with a microwave thermal treatment to manufacture ceramic bricks and porcelain tiles.  
  • Milling the asbestos products at very high speeds to reduce asbestos fibers into other nonhazardous and inert minerals. 

If you search online, it doesn’t take long to discover that it has not been uncommon for large corporations to cover up their use of asbestos. Many companies have been met with lawsuits in recent years, including W.R. Grace, for allegedly ignoring the dangers of asbestos use well after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other government entities made these dangers apparent.

Do You Qualify For Compensation?

Quickly and easily find out how you were exposed by searching W.A.R.D., the largest asbestos database on the planet.


Alternatives to Asbestos-containing materials (ACM)

Products manufactured after the late-1980s should not contain any asbestos, and luckily, today there are many alternative insulations on the market – although some may be safer to use than others. 

Alternatives Materials used to substitute for asbestos-containing materials (ACM):


Both fiberglass and asbestos are fibrous materials, and both are also heat resistant. 

Surprisingly, while fiberglass is today a common alternative to asbestos today, both are also known to be carcinogens. For this reason, some have referred to fiberglass as the “man-made asbestos.” Its cancer-causing properties have been well-documented in studies. However, the material is not yet officially classified as a human carcinogen and continues to be widely used in a variety of products. It’s important to note that microscopic fiberglass has a tendency to cut through skin, so it’s important to wear protective gear when handling it to avoid irritation.

Rock Wool:

Rock wool is a mineral-based alternative, and the loose-fill option is commonly confused with asbestos because it is also fibrous and has a cotton-like texture. It can be gray, white or have a brownish tint, and is used both in loose insulation and in woven batts. The wool is created from basaltic rock and dolomite.


Cellulose insulation is gray and soft. It is made primarily from recycled paper, so it is not a mineral-based insulation, and it comes in a loose fill version commonly blown into attic or in woven batts. It can also look like asbestos when blown, and it can be difficult to decipher the difference. However, upon close inspection of the cellulose it the pieces of paper may be noticeable.

AsbestosClaims.Law is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos. We hope this information is helpful.

If you have any additional questions or concerns related to asbestos, check out our website and YouTube page for videos, infographics and answers to your questions about asbestos, including health and safety, asbestos testing, removing asbestos from your home and building, and legal information about compensation for asbestos injuries.

And if you believe that you were exposed to asbestos, or have been diagnosed with an asbestos illness, you could be entitled to significant compensation—money you could use to cover the costs of asbestos removal services, pay for medical treatment, and preemptively protect your physical well-being. 

All without filing a lawsuit.

If you’d like help with filing a claim, please get in touch by email at [email protected], or call or text us at (833) 4-ASBESTOS (427-2378) or (206) 455-9190. We’ll listen to your story and explain your options. And we never charge for anything unless you receive money in your pocket.

1 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.
2 National Cancer Institute (NIH), Asbestos Fact Sheet.