Are Asbestos Fibers Visible?
No, individual fibers from asbestos can only be seen using a microsope and are not visible to the naked eye. Only groups and clumps of asbestos fibers can become visible. As you can see in the picture, a group of 20,000 asbestos fibers is nearly undetectable; as small as a strand of human hair. Since the individual asbestos fibers are so small, they become lighter than air and can essentially float for up to 72 hours in a room where the air is not disturbed. As such, it is difficult to completely avoid being exposed to asbestos. In fact, most of us have been exposed to at least some amount of asbestos and may very well have asbestos in our lungs, even by simply walking down the street.
However, most of us will not develop mesothelioma cancer because of minimal exposure. Although, individuals most susceptible to cancer are those who are exposed to higher amounts of asbestos over a longer period of time, it has been documented there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. The inability to smell, touch, see, or otherwise identify asbestos fibers is primarily why so many people have been unable to avoid exposure to the toxic and carcinogenic substance.
Even though it is now common knowledge that inhaling airborne asbestos fibers causes the development of mesothelioma cancer often decades later, individuals are still being exposed to the substance in workplace settings. While past asbestos exposure cannot be undone, there are ways to minimize or eliminate future asbestos exposure, such as wearing masks and gloves. However, until the use of asbestos in industrial settings can be fully eliminated, there will always be a risk of exposure to asbestos and subsequently asbestos related cancers.