In the mid 19th century, builders and manufacturers thought they had found the ultimate material: asbestos. These naturally occurring silicate minerals had unbeatable physical properties. It could absorb sound and resist heat, fire, and electrical and chemical damage. It seemed to be the perfect material to construct buildings with!
However, as asbestos use was becoming more popular, more and more sickness and deaths became associated with the material. It turned out that asbestos fibers are irregularly shaped with lots of sharp angles. When inhaled, these particles are the causes of many deadly diseases, including lung cancer, asbestisis, the scaring of lung tissue from fibers, and malignant mesothelioma, an incurable tumor.
Today, the use of asbestos has been banned or strictly regulated all over the world. In Washoe County, and most of the United States, an asbestos survey must be completed before the remodeling of any commercial building. If asbestos is found, a licensed contractor must remove the material before construction can begin. These tests are done to make sure the construction site will not be harmful to workers health, or the health of anyone in the building after the project is complete.